Since FrontPage Africa newspaper first published this story about Ms. Meapeh Kou Gono filing a child support petition against Senator George M. Weah through her lawyer, attorney Anneshia Miller Grant of Virginia, I have been critically investigating as a youth activist to verify or authenticate this disturbing news. After almost a week of independent investigation, my outcome corroborates and corresponds with FrontPage Africa’s publication.
There are reliable court documents in my possession that placed Senator Weah at the core of an ongoing child support case at the Newton County Court in Covington, Georgia, United States of America. In her petition to this Court, Ms. Gono accused Senator Weah of abandoning his 10-year-old daughter by failing to provide child support. It is not for me to judge or declare anyone guilty or innocent in this case, but I know that the Newton County Court will give its final verdict in the best interest of the child. For once, let’s forget about politics and focus on the welfare and protection of the child. It matters a lot!
The fundamental reason why this issue has drawn a lot of attention is because Senator Weah, who is at the center of this episode, is not an ordinary character both locally and internationally. The 1995 FIFA best player and now arrow-head of Liberia’s biggest opposition political party is a global figure and an eminent person in Africa, mainly Liberia. Partisans of CDC need to understand that any saga involving Senator Weah is no longer private considering his existing portfolio.
His status now as a popular politician in Liberia and a Senator representing over 1.1 million citizens in Montserrado County makes him answerable and liable to those he serves. His life has no privacy especially when a case of child support arises against him by a lady he had a relationship with. Since no one including CDC’s hierarchy has denied or disowned Weah’s 10-year-old daughter who was given birth to by Ms. Meapeh Kou Gono, there is no need to drag this situation further. By doing so, the child’s interest would be at risk.
Any attempt for CDC to handle this case without care and due caution, Weah’s presidential ambition for 2017 might encounter serious hurdle. Even though CDC remains an undeniable political force to reckon with in 2017, but this shocking child support case involving its strongman and standard bearer could muddy its chances. There is no doubt that Liberian voters would consider a set of impeccable values such as morality and integrity to evaluate all aspirants contesting for political offices in 2017.
If this solidifies unfolding realities and points to prevailing facts, then it means that the numerical strength of the CDC could decline as a result of this episode. Protecting the rights of a child is a global imperative. As a proponent of social justice, equality, women and children’s rights, it is my utmost duty to always divulge an objective and logical perspective on any situation(s) involving the rights of a child. There is no compromise about this! Children too have rights and those rights are fundamental to their survival, safety, security and livelihood.
There is no politics about Child’s Rights – Best Interest matters...
Ensuring the rights of a child goes beyond politics. Infusing personal feelings, emotional outbursts and politics in this ongoing child support case between Ms. Gono and Senator Weah would even make this child more vulnerable. The State including Parents is under statutory obligation to ensure care and protection for every child.
The 41 articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child promote children’s welfare worldwide and ensure they are not abused. The UN General Assembly resolution 44/25 of November 20, 1989 creates a global framework of action to pursue those who intentionally violate it. The survival, development, protection and participation of every child are key. These are basic rights of every child we must enhance in order to strengthen the effort of the United Nations:
1. Survival rights: include the child’s right to life and the needs that are most basic to existence, such as nutrition, shelter, an adequate living standard, and access to medical services.
2. Development rights: include the right to education, play, leisure, cultural activities, access to information, freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
3. Protection rights: ensure children are safeguarded against all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation, including special care for refugee children; safeguards for children in the criminal justice system; protection for children in employment; protection and rehabilitation for children who have suffered exploitation or abuse of any kind.
4. Participation rights: encompass children's freedom to express opinions, to have a say in matters affecting their own lives, to join associations and to assemble peacefully. As their capacities develop, children should have increasing opportunity to participate in the activities of society, in preparation for adulthood.
According to Article 3 sections 1 and 2 of the CRC:
1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1990 and the Liberia’s Children Law of 2011 strongly supports the Best Interest of the child which is enshrined in the CRC. The USA and Liberia are all signatories to the 1989 CRC.
Refrain from using invective on Ms. Meapeh Kou Gono
The best medium through which anyone can find remedy to his or her dissatisfaction is through the Court. Was it wrong for Ms. Gono to file a complaint against Senator Weah for ‘failing’ to give child support to his 10-year-old daughter? I certainly do not cleave to the belief that Ms. Gono’s approach of seeking legal redress was wrong. Her action conforms to global reality – this happens all around the world.
In accordance with local law and international laws, Ms. Gono reserves the right to sue and not to sue. I think Ms. Gono’s action was instigated by displeasure. It is only the Court that can further inform our perspective about the real intent of Ms. Gono. The final verdict by the Newton County Court in Covington will determine whether the claim made by Ms. Gono against Senator Weah is genuine. To this end, all of us lack the capacity and authority to do so.
However, if this claim is not genuine or valid, Senator Weah reserves the right under the law to sue Ms. Gono for libel and defamation. He also has the right not to sue. The Law works for everyone, mostly in America. While the case is in Court, it is wrong for anyone (CDcians or non-CDcians) to jump to inept conclusions. Discussing a case in court, especially of this nature is prejudicial.
I don’t want to agree that the step taken by Ms. Gono to pursue legal redress has a political undertone. It is widely believe by most CDcians that Ms. Gono is being used by politicians to diminish the popularity of Senator Weah after thousands of citizens petitioned him on April 28, 2016 to contest for the Presidency in 2017. My disagreement is based on the fact that Ms. Gono has been pursuing this case even before the Political Leader of CDC was petitioned for the highest seat in Liberia on April 28.
According to an e-mail published by FrontPage Africa newspaper titled “Gonoglay v. Weah; URGENT Child Support Matter”, Ms. Gono’s lawyer, attorney Anneshia Miller Grant on February 16, 2015 wrote Senator Weah informing him about a child support case filed against him. An excerpt of the e-mail sent to Senator Weah reads “Given your prominence both as an athlete and in your governmental capacity, I would like to have an opportunity to speak with you so that we may possibly settle this matter without court intervention.”
Judging from this e-mail, it was the intention of Ms. Gono and her lawyer to settle this matter out of Court. Instead of finding immediate solution, Senator Weah through his lawyer was requesting a DNA. Probably, this may have even provoked Ms. Gono further. According to available medical documents released by FrontPage Africa, the “Probability of Paternity” is 99.99999 percent according to the DNA’s result. This means that Senator Weah is the real father of Ms. Gono’s 10-year-old daughter. Since this issue was made public, CDC’s political leader has not denied that he is the father of the child.
Speaking to VOA James Butty, CDC Vice Chairman for Operations, Mr. Mulbah Morlu admitted that Senator Weah had a relationship with Ms. Gono and does not deny fathering his child. Since it has been established medically and confirmed by CDC that the child belongs to Senator Weah, CDcians who continue to publicly abuse Ms. Gono need refrain from doing so. The insults and invective pointing towards Ms. Gono for a crime she did not commit is intolerable and unacceptable. Partisans of CDC and fanatics of Senator Weah must desist from launching consistent attacks on the reputation of Ms. Gono via radio talk-shows and facebook.
The most appropriate way to manage such situation is not by using invective or spewing emotional outbursts, but by revealing counter-facts and preponderance of evidence to defeat Ms. Gono’s claim in Court. Those who continue to insult Ms. Gono are creating even more harm for the CDC and its political leader. It is possible that Ms. Gono could decide to withdraw the case and call for a peaceful and reasonable settlement outside of the Court. However, the usage of consistent invective against her could abort this plan. It is my anticipation that any decision taken by the Court in the presence of both Parents will represent the best interest of the 10-year-old kid.
May 11 and June 28 are major dates set aside by the Newton County Court in Georgia to hear this case and perhaps render judgment. So, I encourage everyone to exercise restraint and allow the Court to perform its duties in line with acceptable legal principles and standards.
Branding FPA as a “Political Mercenary’ is unfair
In post-conflict Liberia, FrontPage Africa is one of the investigative, independent, credible, educative and informative news outlets our country can boast of. Like many other critical newspapers, FPA is noted for reporting hard facts and reliable information. Publisher Rodney Sieh and his team of professional journalists have been unveiling hidden truths in Liberia without fear or favor.
FPA reports stories about government as well as opposition political parties, of which the Congress for Democratic Change is of no exception. By publishing news stories with Court documents about an ongoing child support case involving Senator Weah does not in any way make FPA a “Political Mercenary”. This characterization is unfair and counterproductive to promoting press freedom. FPA is simply performing its reportorial duties in line with the ethics and ethos of journalism. Accusing FPA of using a political gun to shoot the CDC has no basis to me.
As I said initially, Senator Weah no longer lives a private life. His status as a politician and a senator places him in a public quadrant. I thought to weigh in a bit on Weah-Gono’s episode by providing an objective perspective. This is my frank opinion on this matter. As our nation proceeds to 2017, all of us must develop a sense of boldness and patriotism to speak the truth, even if it hurts our interest. Above all interests, Liberia is Supreme….