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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08MONROVIA765 2008-10-01 17:40:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Monrovia
Cable title:  

LIBERIAN WAR CRIMES COURT ADVOCATE DETAINED FOR

Tags:   PGOV PREL SOCI PHUM LI 
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VZCZCXRO6358
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHMV #0765 2751740
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011740Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONROVIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0411
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L MONROVIA 000765 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/01/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL SOCI PHUM LI
SUBJECT: LIBERIAN WAR CRIMES COURT ADVOCATE DETAINED FOR
FIFTH TIME

Classified By: CDA Brooks A. Robinson for reasons 1.4 B and D.



1. (SBU) The National Security Agency (NSA) arrested Mulbah
Morlu, leader of the "Forum for the Establishment of a War
Crimes Court in Liberia," September 27 for calling President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf a "rebel" on local television September


26. Morlu was held at NSA headquarters until the President
ordered him released September 29. After Morlu's release,
the President's spokesman said the GOL had "no intention of
infringing on anyone' rights," but also told Morlu to realize
that "freedom of speech goes with certain responsibilities."
This is the fifth time Morlu has been arrested since he
started advocating for a war crimes court, but he has never
been formally charged or sent to court on any of those
occasions.



2. (SBU) Morlu set up the Forum in 2006 after the arrest of
Charles Taylor. He has since become the public face of a
growing grassroots movement to try all former Liberian
warlords in a war crimes court. The Forum staged a
demonstration in Monrovia in 2007 during the visit of former
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan but was kept at bay by UNMIL
and Liberia National Police officers. The Forum also planned
to demonstrate during the February 2008 visit of President
Bush but Morlu was preemptively arrested and then released
the following day. The group was planning another
demonstration in Monrovia October 15 but has thus far been
unable to obtain any of the necessary permits to demonstrate.



3. (SBU) Morlu was a member of Taylor's National Patriotic
Party (NPP) but has since become an active member of the
opposition party Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). CDC
called for Morlu's immediate release during this latest
detention and is continuing to protest the motives and
conditions he faced during his detention. (NOTE: Morlu
claims that he held in solitary confinement without food,
water, light, or access to any visitors. He also said he was
subjected to threatening remarks by NSA officials. END NOTE.)



4. (C) The Liberian press has been covering Morlu's latest
arrest extensively, but has only made a few references to the
fact that the head of NSA, Fomba Sirleaf, is President
Sirleaf's step-son. In fact, Fomba Sirleaf was out of the
country at the time of the latest arrest. One political
cartoon in September 30's Observer makes light of the fact
that Morlu's NSA arrest could have been a personal vendetta
for insulting Fomba's mother. A mother pats her crying son's
head and says "Son, I told you no fighting." The boy gets up
and says, "No! He cuss my ma. So I wan deal with him!"



5. (C) COMMENT: There is certainly enough indication that
Morlu's backers are using him to embarrass the government.
However, Morlu's repeated arrests and detentions without
formal charges flies in the face of the government's efforts
to improve the judicial process and the tolerance of freedom
of speech in Liberia. NSA needs to clarify its role as a law
enforcement agency. Although it has a legitimate role in
gathering intelligence on threats against the state, it needs
to strengthen its ability to bring cases to prosecution, or
leave that effort to others. The GOL has stated it is not
interested in the establishment of a war crimes court and
wants to see the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission
reach a meaningful conclusion, but the publicity surrounding
Morlu's arrests have only served to fuel discussion on the
issue.
ROBINSON