I am not a graduate or a student of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law. Neither do I claim to be a legal scholar or a paralegal, but I have made it my duty as a young activist to pen and proffer this legal defense on behalf of comrade brother Henry P. Costa. I thought to share my opinion on this matter by using ‘Legality and Logic’ as my ‘force of defense’ to ably justify why the Republic of Sierra Leone will not and cannot extradite or turn over Weah’s fierce critic, Henry P. Costa. Here are 7 genuine reasons to consider:
- Henry P. Costa is not ‘Extraditable’ or he is not an ‘Extraditable Person’ because he has not been charged, tried and convicted of any crime. According to International Extradition Laws and Procedures, Henry P. Costa (HPC) is not subject to extradition because he does not fall in these legal categories or parameters:
a. Charged with a crime but not yet tried;
b. Tried and Convicted but escaped custody;
c. Convicted in absentia.
Costa’s situation does not warrant extradition in any form or manner. The extradition request by the Government of Liberia through the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) lacks legal validity. Therefore, Sierra Leone will not extradite or turn over Henry Costa.
2. There is no extradition treaty between Liberia and Sierra Leone. There is a difference between an Extradition Act and an Extradition Treaty. According to Public International Law, an Extradition Act only regulates extradition within countries while an Extradition Treaty regulates extradition between countries (e.g. Nigeria–South Africa Extradition Treaty of 2004 and UK–US Extradition Treaty of 2003). There is no Liberia–Sierra Leone Extradition Treaty as of this date. These are the only 2 legal instruments or statutes which separately deal with extradition in each country, but there is no treaty whatsoever between both countries:
a. The 1974 Extradition Act of Sierra Leone;
b. The Criminal Procedure Law, Part 1 Chapter 8 (Section 8.1 – Section 8.12) – Title 2 Liberia Code of Laws Revised. Based on this reasoning, Sierra Leone will not extradite or turn over Henry P. Costa.
3. Even under the 1974 Extradition Act of Sierra Leone, HPC cannot be a subject of extradition because he has not committed any of the “28 extraditable crimes” which are prescribed in Section 2 and Section 17 (The Fourth Schedule) of the 1974 Extradition Act of Sierra Leone. Some of those offenses enshrined in these provisions are: murder – manslaughter – counterfeiting – rape – abduction – arson – robbery – bribery – kidnapping – damage of property – etc. Is Costa culpable of any of these crimes? NO..NO…NO.
4. Before Costa’s departure Liberia, the Government of Liberia (GOL) did not accuse or charge him with any of crimes supra. Even up to now, there is no accusation or charge of any kind indicting HPC for an extraditable crime. So, on what basis is GOL through BIN requesting his extradition from Sierra Leone? Even under the Liberian Criminal Procedure Law (Part 1 Section 8.3 – requisition for the surrender of fugitive), GOL’s vicious quest to extradite HPC is not only illegal, but nullified or annulled.
They’ve got no legal ground. In fact, it was HPC who accused BIN of swapping his laissez-passer. Furthermore, the Government of Sierra Leone cannot continue to hold Costa in custody because it has no jurisdiction over him. Besides, PROBABLE CAUSE is yet to be established. Even legal doctrines like ‘The Protective Principle’ and ‘The Principle of Territoriality’ are inapplicable in Costa’s case judging from Extraterritorial Criminal Jurisdiction under International Law.
So, Sierra Leone will neither extradite Henry P. Costa nor violate his right by holding him in further custody.
Before HPC could leave Liberia for Sierra Leone, GOL did not restrain his movement through any form of WRIT from a Court of Competent Jurisdiction. There was no ‘Writ of Arrest’ issued neither was there any ‘Writ of Ne-Exeat Republica’ banning HPC from traveling. The BIN has no judicial power to determine when, where and how any citizen should travel in and out of the territorial borders of Liberia.
Costa’s right to move freely and his right to leave and enter Liberia anytime were/are under attack. The arbitrary action of the GOL to unjustifiably restrain his movement, even though he was never accused, charged, tried and convicted of any crime, violates Article 13 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. Such action is also in gross violation of: Article 12 of the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 13 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Because Authorities in Sierra Leone also understand the scope of the Liberian Law and other Regional and International Protocols, they will not extradite or turn over Henry P. Costa.
5. As a State Party to the 1979 ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement and Trans-border Security, authorities of Sierra Leone will be violating Costa’s rights if they extradite him. According to ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement, “Unless or until charges have been filed, every ECOWAS citizen is free to travel to any member State as he or she pleases. Moreover, even if charges have been filed, and THE ACCUSED or DEFENDANT is not aware, he or she has every right to freedom of movement and to travel.”
Because President Julius Maada Bio and his government are under legal obligation and regional statutory mandate to enforce this protocol without fear or favor, Sierra Leone will not extradite Henry P. Costa.
6. Henry P. Costa, as a fierce critic of the Weah-led government, publicly expressed ‘LEGITIMATE FEAR’ of returning to Liberia. Such ‘fear’ is reasonable, permissible and justified under international jurisprudence (e.g. 1948 UDHR, 1981 ACHPR, and 1976 ICCPR). While in Liberia, HPC revealed a plot engineered by the government to assassinate him. Such revelation was also made to authorities in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone as a State Party to these regional and international statutes is under a binding obligation to protect HPC because he fled persecution, repression and possible death.
President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone will not break these fundamental laws and principles of human rights in order to appease or satisfy President George M. Weah’s illegally request to extradite his fierce critic who has escaped persecution and torture. Therefore, Sierra Leone will not extradite Costa.
7. The uninterrupted attacks on the person of Henry P. Costa by high-ranking officials of GOL, pro-CDC thugs, and pro-Weah zealots have placed the Weah-led government at odds. As the leader of COP and an opposition politician, Costa along with his bodyguards has been a victim of a series of brutal attacks. His radio station (Roots FM 102.7) was forcibly shut down and his cars vandalized several times by security operatives, warlords, and thuggish gangs (Sabu Unit and Zebra Unit) hired by and loyal to CDC-led government. The regime intends to settle political scores with Costa after he led two (2) mass-based anti-government protests on June 7, 2019, and January 6, 2020.
Furthermore, the Government of Liberia is on record for cracking down on peaceful protesters, opposition politicians, critics, journalists, and voices of dissent. Recently, President George Weah in his Church publicly threatened to slap Costa in a fistfight on Carey Street while Deputy Minister Eugene L. Fahngon said on social media, “Costa will soon die”. Since coming to power, the Weah-led government has a BAD HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD as reported by local and international human rights organizations including the Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia (INHRCL).
Because the Government of Sierra Leone and the International Community are cognizant of these hostile realities in Liberia, which grossly violate basic human rights and the principles of democracy, they will not extradite or turn over Henry P. Costa to President Weah and his government.
Like I would do for any person or critic who is running away from persecution, this is how I thought to join the team of lawyers representing Costa’s legal interest. Beyond all reasonable doubts, Costa’s innocence in this matter is expressly known and no form of political machination or maneuvering can make him to return to a government that wants him dead.
The craving for Costa’s extradition or return by pro-CDC fanatics, including president Weah, is a testament of a witch-hunt, repression, and a form of dangerous dictatorship. Such brutish desire and intolerant yearning to devour a fierce critic has got to be a daydream. The Court of Public Judgment has rendered the Weah-led government guilty of autocracy and tyranny. In fact, they are the real culprits of persecution and torture. And their collective guilt shall never cease to pierce their consciences. HPC has committed no crime. Therefore, he must be left alone as a FREEMAN.
They (GOL through BIN) officially authorized Costa’s entry into Liberia through his laissez-passer. But they are now illegally resisting his departure through this very same laissez-passer they stamped/approved upon his arrival. No serious and democratic government indulges into such SCAM and brutish harassment which is simply intended to gain political capital or show strength. Strength should be shown in DEVELOPMENT and ECONOMIC GROWTH, and not to abuse peaceful citizens and harass law-abiding critics.
The action of HPC to leave Liberia under such conditions is legally justified, morally upright, and rationally prudent. The fact is that Liberia has become a zone of terror, especially for critical voices, under ex-footballer turned president George Weah. Henry P. Costa was never running away from THE LAW as his accusers and cynics may presume, but he was running away from TERROR and THE LAWLESS (a callous and unjust government). The Weah-led government has lost credibility, morality, and legitimacy to preside over any case involving Henry P. Costa. Security apparatuses, like BIN and LNP, have all succumbed to partisanship and partiality. The FACTS can never lie. HPC has committed no crime. Therefore, he must be left alone as a FREEMAN.
In this age of modernity, the ‘force of legality and logic’ will always subdue the ‘force of tyranny and repression’. In the end, the Weah-led government will succumb to DIPLOMACY, LEGALITY, and LOGIC. Down with Dictatorship – Up with Democracy. The struggle continues!
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian activist, columnist, and emerging economist (Cum Laude in Economics – University of Liberia). He hails from Bong County and is an avowed proponent of social democracy and economic freedom. Martin is a former student leader who currently lives in exile and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main Photo; COP Chair, Henry Costa, briefs the press