SEOUL: South Korean police said on Friday they had detained two Liberian government officials over the alleged rape of two teenagers in South Korea.
According to Euronews, the men, in their 30s and 50s, respectively, were arrested on the spot at a hotel in the southeastern city of Busan on Thursday after a friend of the alleged victims reported the case to the police, Busan police said.
A Seoul Foreign Ministry official said the ministry was reviewing whether the two Liberians were entitled to diplomatic immunity.
The Korean Police said they planned to seek formal arrest warrants for the two men, which would allow them to hold the suspects in custody for up to 10 days.
Reuters News was not immediately able to contact the Liberian officials or their lawyers to seek comment.
The Liberian embassy in Tokyo, which oversees Korean affairs, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, Reuters said.
However, the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), says it has received with grave concern reports of the arrest on allegations of sexual assault and rape by two staffers of LiMA in the Port City of Busan, South Korea.
The two officials, Mr. Moses Owen Browne (Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization(IMO) and Mr. Daniel Tarr (Director of the Department of Marine Environmental Protection), were in South Korea attending the International Maritime Organization (IMO) GHG SMART Practical Training and Study Visit (September 19-23, 2022) when this alleged incident occurred.
LiMA unequivocally maintains a zero tolerance stance on any and all types of sexual and gender-based offenses, and views these allegations of the conduct of its officials as most egregious, having no place in any civilized society.
Liberia Maritime Authority will fully cooperate with the government of the Republic of South Korea in the investigation of this incident and vows to take appropriate actions, pursuant to national and international laws.
Meanwhile, the arrest of the two Liberian officials came at a time, a high-level delegation from South Korea arrived in Liberia.
During the visit of the delegation, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Henry B. Fahnbulleh, extolled the Korean Government for the humanitarian and development assistance it continues to render the Government and people of Liberia, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Liberia and Korea about 60 years now.
Acting Minister Fahnbulleh observed that the longstanding relations and cooperation between Liberia and Korea have been mutually fruitful and rewarding to the mutual benefits of the two governments and peoples.
According to a Foreign Ministry release issued over the weekend, the Liberian Acting Foreign Minister was speaking on Friday, September 23, 2022, when the visiting high level Korean Government delegation paid a courtesy call on him, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
The Acting Foreign Minister urged the Korean Government to continue its assistance to Liberia, especially in the areas of technology, agriculture and infrastructure as well as the Energy sector.
Acting Foreign Minister Fahnbulleh also asked the Korean delegation to help provide scholarship opportunities to enhance the capacities of the Liberian youths, mainly in the areas of vocational and technical training.
For his part, the Senior Secretary to the President for Future Strategy, Office of the President, Republic of Korea, Mr. Jang Sung Min, who heads the delegation to Liberia, extended thanks and appreciation to the Acting Foreign Minister and the government and people of Liberia for the warm reception accorded his delegation here, in Liberia.
The visiting Head of Delegation then assured the Liberian Acting Foreign Minister of his government’s willingness to get involved with Liberia’s development drive at all times. He also hailed President George Manneh Weah and his government for Liberia’s willingness to support Korean bid for the World Expo 2030 in Busan, Korea.
He said his delegation was in the country to reassure Liberians of Korea’s unflinching and continued support to Liberia’s development initiatives and to convey a special message from the President of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol to his Liberian counterpart President Weah.
While hailing the cordial and longstanding bilateral relations with Liberia, Mr. Jang Sung Min disclosed that Liberia was a great help to the people of South Korea during the Korean War, noting that the Liberian government at the time assisted Korea with rubber and other materials, “This, we will never forget”, he noted.
The meeting between the Acting Minister and the Head of Korean Delegation was attended by members of the senior management team of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including Assistant Minister Naomi Gray, Assistant Minister for Afro-Asian Affairs.
Others in attendance were representatives from line ministries and agencies of government including, Wilfred Bangura, II, Acting Minister, Ministry of Commence; Atty. Daniel Gayedyu, Acting Minister, Ministry of Information among others.
More than that, this latest allegation of rape against these two officials is in addition to several other gender base violence and sexual assault cases both in Liberia and the US involving senior members of the government.
Liberia’s Foreign Minister, D. Maxwell Kemayah, stands accused of sexually harassing a female staff during his administration as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
In addition, the current Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Isaac Doe was linked to publicly flogging of his purported girl-friend and inflicted bodily wounds on her in the Paynesville District area.
Though the outcomes of these cases are tied to investigations, the surge of rape allegations against state officials and others has become alarming.
Interestingly, however, President George Manneh Weah, months ago, declared rape as a national emergency.
The menace, according to some independent observers, is now bringing embarrassment to the nation especially on both local and international scene.