The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has been ordered to shoot anyone caught attempting to steal navigation equipment within the aerodrome or on the airside at Roberts International Airport.
The order was contained in a recent announcement published in some local dailies by the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA).
The announcement reads:
The Management of the Liberia Airport Authority in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) wishes to inform the general public that additional security measures have been put into place at the RIA to secure the premises of the airport, especially the aerodrome or the airside from theft and unlawful interferences.
The new security measures include:
Stringent patrol by armed men of the AFL at every entry point of the aerodrome or airside at RIA;
Authorization to the AFL to shoot at sight, anyone who attempts to steal any of the navigational equipment, within the aerodrome or on the airside of the RIA;
In view of these security measures, the public is advised to keep away and not to unlawfully interfere with the aerodrome or airside at any time, as these measures will be strictly applied to the letter.
The Liberia Airport Authority Management has observed with grave concern that criminals are bent on entering and attempting to steal very important equipment, something which could have crippling effects on the operations of the airport.
Management attaches great importance to the security of these pieces of equipment within the aerodrome or the airside and will spare no efforts to ensure that they are secured or unharmed.
Let this announcement claim the attention of the public.
This strong announcement has begun drawing ire in some quarters, with some referencing the incident of teenager Shaki Kamara who was killed in cold blood when he was shot dead by an AFL soldier enforcing the quarantine of West Point during the Ebola epidemic in 2014.
The order, in the view of a member of the opposition Liberty Party, Abraham Darius Dillon, is sanctioning extra-judicial killings.
He critiqued: “The people are already warning against dissenting views and lashing at the media.
Any critical opposition could be picked up discreetly, taken at the RIA and shot dead with justification that the dead was sighted attempting to steal airport properties.
“The last time the AFL was ordered out on a mission to secure an environment, little Shaki Kamara got shot in cold blood and died.”
Dillon blasted the LAA for stepping out of its statutory bounds.
“The National Legislature has prescribed the punishment for theft and it is not death. By the way, what is the AFL doing at the airport?
Is this situation a national emergency beyond the capacity of law enforcement to trigger section 2.3 E of the National Defense Act?” he asked.
He said the “illegal” order must claim the attention of President Weah who must order the head of the LAA to issue a correction.