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Case History: Vandalark Patricks

Status: 
Facing trial
About the situation

On 23 February 2016, armed police officers arrested and detained Patricks Vandalark, on charges of criminal libel and sedition. Police held him at Monrovia Central Prison until 1 March 2016. During his arrest, police officers injected him with an unknown substance, and his health has subsequently deteriorated. It is believed that Patricks Vandalark was arrested in connection with a speech he delivered on behalf of a consortium of civil society organisations, including CLACI, on 21 February 2016.  The speech urged civil society to take part in a march calling for justice and accountability for the killings of several human rights defenders and activists.

About Vandalark Patricks

 Vandalark PatricksVandalark Patricks is a member of the Concerned Liberians against Corruption and Impunity (CLACI), where he is responsible for campaigns. CLACI is a coalition of Liberian human rights defenders that aims to address issues of corruption in Liberia and to ensure accountability for human rights violations in the country. The coalition has focused its campaigns on investigations into corruption and the pursuance of prosecutions for perpetrators of war crimes committed during the country's 14-year civil conflict.

23 May 2016
Harassment and Intimidation of Human Rights Defender Patricks Vandalark

Front Line Defenders expresses its serious concern regarding the ongoing persecution of Liberian human rights defender Patricks Vandalark leading up to his trial which is scheduled for 26 May 2016.

On 23 February 2016, armed police officers arrested and detained Patricks Vandalark, a member of Concerned Liberians against Corruption and Impunity (CLACI), on charges of criminal libel and sedition.

It is believed that Patricks Vandalark was arrested in connection with a speech he delivered on behalf of a consortium of civil society organisations, including CLACI, on 21 February 2016.  The speech urged civil society to take part in a march calling for justice and accountability for the killings of several human rights defenders and activists. The march was scheduled for 11 March 2016.

Police arrested Patricks Vandalark and held him at Monrovia Central Prison from 23 February 2016 to 1 March 2016. During his arrest, police officers injected him with an unknown substance, and his health has subsequently deteriorated.

On 14 March 2016, the human rights defender's lawyer filed a request at Criminal Court A of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia seeking permission for the human rights defender to travel abroad for medical treatment. He was previously refused permission to travel by immigration officials at Roberts International Airport on 13 March 2016. Patricks Vandalark was finally allowed to leave the country in April to seek medical treatment. Since his return to Liberia, the human rights defender has been afraid to speak publicly for fear of reprisals as his case is before the courts.

As a signatory to the Declaration of Table Mountain and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Liberia has agreed to uphold the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, but the country’s libel and criminal laws severely contradict these principles. Liberia’s libel and criminal laws severely limit the space in which human rights defenders can conduct their work, and are often invoked as grounds for harassment and threats.

Front Line Defenders urges the Liberian authorities to drop the charges against Patricks Vandalark as it believes they are directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work as a human rights defender. Additionally, Front Line Defenders calls on the Liberian authorities to guarantee that he is able to carry out his legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.
 

22 March 2016
Deteriorating health of human rights defender Vandalark Patricks and denial of permission for him to travel abroad for medical treatment

On 22 March 2016, human rights defender Mr Vandalark Patricks left hospital in Monrovia the day after members of the police emergency response unit came to the hospital and demanded that they be provided with his medical report. He had been rushed to hospital on 19 March 2016 after experiencing severe swelling on his side and extreme pain whilst walking. On 14 March 2016, the human rights defender's lawyer had filed a request at Criminal Court A of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia seeking permission for the human rights defender to travel abroad for medical treatment, after he had been halted by immigration officials at Roberts International Airport on 13 March 2016 and refused permission to leave the country. He has been suffering from health problems since being detained earlier in February 2016.

Vandalark Patricks is a member of Concerned Liberians against Corruption and Impunity (CLACI), where he is responsible for campaigns. CLACI is a coalition of Liberian human rights defenders that works to address issues of corruption in Liberia and seek accountability for human rights violations in the country. The coalition has focused its campaigns on investigations into corruption and the pursuance of prosecutions for perpetrators of war crimes committed during the country's 14-year civil conflict.

The human rights defender was halted by immigration officials at Roberts International Airport on 13 March 2016, as he attempted to travel to Ghana to seek medical treatment. Immigration officials at the airport informed him that he did not have permission to travel abroad and confiscated his passport. Vandalark Patricks had decided to leave the country temporarily on the advice of his doctor, who had instructed him to travel abroad for medical evaluation and treatment. The Criminal Court in Monrovia is yet to rule on his request for permission to travel.

Vandalark Patricks has been experiencing health problems since being detained at Monrovia Central Prison between 23 February and 1 March 2016. The human rights defender was arrested on 23 February 2016 as he participated in a meeting of civil society in Monrovia. During his arrest he was injected with an unknown substance by police officers, and his health subsequently deteriorated severely while he was detained. He is currently suffering from severe pain in his lower abdomen, a redness and swelling where he was injected with the unknown substance, intense pain whilst walking, a lack of appetite and blood in his stool.

The human rights defender is facing charges of sedition and criminal libel. It is believed that he was arrested in connection with a communication he had read out on behalf of a consortium of civil society organisations on 21 February 2016, urging civil society to take part in a march to call for justice and accountability for the killings of several human rights defenders and activists.

Front Line Defenders is concerned at the refusal to permit Vandalark Patricks to travel, particularly given the deteriorating state of the human rights defender's health, and calls on the Liberian authorities to return his passport to him and grant him permission to seek medical treatment abroad. Further concern is expressed at the charges brought against Vandalark Patricks, which it believes to be directly motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights and his fight against impunity following human rights violations in Liberia.

4 March 2016
Judicial harassment of human rights defender Vandalark Patricks

On 1 March 2016, human rights defender Mr Vandalark Patricks was released from prison on bail, having been charged with sedition and criminal libel. He was arrested on 23 February 2016 while participating in a meeting of civil society in Monrovia.

The human rights defender experienced severe difficulties in finding an agent willing to grant him the bail bond amount of 3,000 USD (approximately  €2,730). When colleagues of Vandalark Patrick from CLACI approached agents on the matter, they were unsuccessful, with agents claiming that they had been warned by state agents to refuse to grant the bail bond or face consequences. On 29 February 2016, charges of sedition and criminal libel against the human rights defender were reviewed and confirmed by the Supreme Court of Liberia, in Monrovia.

The human rights defender was arrested on 23 February 2016, at approximately 2:45 pm, by armed police officers of the Liberia National Police and the National Security Agency (NSA) while participating in a meeting at a local civil society centre in Monrovia. Vandalark Patricks reported that while being taken to Monrovia Central Prison, he was injected with an unknown substance by police officers. Whilst in detention, he was denied visits from his immediate family members.

It is believed that Vandalark Patricks was arrested in connection with a communication he had read out on behalf of a consortium of civil society organisations, including CLACI, on 21 February 2016, urging civil society to take part in a march scheduled to take place on 11 March 2016 to call for justice and accountability for the killings of several human rights defenders and activists.