The speaker of Liberia’s parliament, Edwin Snowe, is on a United Nations travel ban for his close association with former Liberian President Charles Taylor. He’s also on the UN’s assets freeze list. So why is Speaker Snowe leaving Liberia this weekend to Doha, Qatar in the Middle East? He explains to VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty why.
“First, let me extend thanks to the United Nations through the Special Representative of the Secretary General here in Liberia, Ambassador Alan Doss, as well as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. They have been working to show that we have some light regarding these sanctions against Liberia. Having said that, I’ve been invited to Qatar for the sixth international conference on Restore or Renew Democracy around the World,” Snowe said.
Snowe, who is Charles Taylor’s former son-in-law, says he will use the trip to lobby for the lifting of the UN travel ban against him and other Liberians.
“That’s not what I am going to Qatar, but I’ve been informed that the Secretary General might be there and other influential world leaders as well as the IPU (Inter-parliamentary Union) executives could be there. And there’s the opportunity to make the representation to have these sanctions lifted, not just on Edwin Snowe but on all other Liberians, I will take advantage of it and make the necessary representation on behalf of my people,” Snowe said.
Snowe says his travel visa was probably approved in line with a provision in the UN sanctions regime which grants visas for religious reasons or missions that enhance peace and democracy.
Contrary to what some have suggested, Snowe says the UN Security Council decision last week not to lift sanctions on Liberia’s diamonds was not related to the Liberian government’s failure to freeze the assets of Snowe and others.
“I haven’t heard that yet, but as you know, Liberia is a country of laws, and under our constitution, one has the right to ascertain property, and if there is any reason why one’s property should be seized or taken away, it must be done through a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Snowe says he was told the UN Security Council did not lift the diamond sanctions due to Liberia’s failure to complete its Kimberley Process.
Snowe says he does not think his assets should be frozen.
“I believe in the rule of law, and I believe that if the case is taken to a court of competent jurisdiction and I’m found guilty for any reason that the United Nations or anyone has leveled against me, the law will take its course. But outside of due process, I find it very difficult to comprehend someone seizing my property because of speculation or because mere assumption,” Snow said.
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