Korean Lawyer Condemns “Unlawful” Arrest of Liberia’s Maritime Officials

Owen Browne (Right) and Daniel Tarh were arrested last month at a hotel in the southeastern city of Busan for allegedly raping the girls believes to be minors.

MONROVIA – K-news has gathered info from Busan, South Korea where Ambassador Moses Owen Browne, Jr., Permanent Representative of Liberia to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and his colleague, Daniel Tarr, are being held in police detention on allegations of sexual assault that a human rights lawyer has volunteered to represent their legal interest, indicating that their arrest is unlawful and illegal and violates international laws.

The Liberian Government Officials were arrested on Thursday, 22 September 2022 at the Asti Busan Hotel at 10 pm with women believed to be in their early and late twenties.

The report quotes Miss Kim Jeung Park, the human rights activist and lawyer as saying without any legal representation and formal investigation into the alleged rape case, the Liberian officials were arraigned before a magistrate court on 25 September 2022; where a judge issued formal arrest warrant but refused to release the diplomats on immunities and privileges enjoyed under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

“I am following the case religiously and even though I don’t condone any form of sexual violence, I also believe the rights and privileges accorded to these officials must be respected and upheld by the court whilst they are awaiting trial,” Park is quoted as saying, and noting that is illegal to arrest and incarcerate a diplomat on a diplomatic mission in the receiving state who enjoys inviolability and immunities under article 29 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1947 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of Specialized Agency, for which the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a United Nations Specialized Agency covering these officials of the Liberian government,” Kim Jeung Park said.

Article 6 section 1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of Korea states clearly that “treaties, laws and international statutes duly concluded and promulgated under the constitution and generally recognized rules of treaties and customary international laws shall have the same effect as domestic laws of Korea.

These fundamental rights as further guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic of Korea have been violated and the Court must adhere to and treat the diplomat with respect and restore his rights and dignity. The court must take appropriate steps to prevent further attacks on the Liberian officials and grant his freedom from detention.

Ambassador Moses Owen Browne, Jr. and Mr. Daniel Tarr are senior Liberian Government officials invited by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of the Government of the Republic of Korea to participate in a weeklong Green House Gas strategy development for the reduction of GHG emissions from ships. Consequently, they are covered by both the Vienna Convention of 1961 and the Convention on International Organizations of 1947.

Browne and Tarh were arrested last month at a hotel in the southeastern city of Busan for allegedly raping the girls believes to be minors.

The men 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, according to LiMA in a statement.

The Liberia Authority (LiMA), in a statement following the news said it unequivocally maintains a zero-tolerance stance on any 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, under national and international Law. ”

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