Digital divide can shift Liberia’s future in a negative way

Digital divide can shift Liberia’s future in a negative way

Officially posted: Monday, December 24, 2007 By Bernard Gbayee Goah

Electronically communicated information should always be checked thoroughly before reaching any conclusion regarding an allegation against anybody. E-mails, websites, video and tape recordings, etc, must be properly examined by the Liberian government or any government before any conclusion can be made on critical issues such as charging a citizen with treason.

There are many ways to authenticate electronic information such as websites and e-mail communications, however discussing these ways is not the subject of this commentary, because I don’t want the criminal to become smarter than law enforcement. Since the criminals are also reading online comments, I am afraid the wrong person might use this to improve himself and run from justice.

In my view, some individuals will criticize certain people due to their alleged past involvements in the Liberian civil war. One perfect example is the coup plot allegation against Julu, Koukou, and others. Without proper investigation, the Liberian government used an e-mail communication from Tom Woewiyu, and videotape recordings from other sources to arrest General Julu and others for their alleged involvement in subversive activities against the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Some of my friends on the other side of the isle, without investigating further began to refer to Julu and those arrested with him as “devils,” and “criminals” and other names associated with evil. Now that the government is unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of General Julu and others, everyone has stopped calling the General names. Up to now there is no credible evidence to prove the guilt of these individuals. Yet, General Julu and his alleged co-conspirators are still in prison in Liberia , all in the name of “indisputable evidence,” supposedly amassed from e-mail and video evidence, which could have been manufactured.

Liberia is a land where a handful of unqualified individuals who claimed to be technologically savvy are heading unmerited top positions in government. There is a digital divide between the power greedy people and the rest of the Liberian citizenry. These quasi-technologists are doing everything possible to restrict the freedom of expression that Liberians should be able to exercise, and are using such technologies in their witch hunt for perceived enemies. These individuals are taking advantage of the Liberian people who do not have access to technology and how it works, and are unable to challenge the government’s actions in a court of law, which is an infringement of their right to fair trial.

There is a serious digital divide in Liberia between the quasi-technologists in government and the rest of the citizenry. However, there will be no defense for those who are not technologically savvy if an allegation is brought against them based on technology-based evidence. This is the kind of Liberia we should expect if policies are not reversed. Many Liberians know they have constitutional rights, but they do not know how to defend those rights. The way in which these rights apply to their day to day lives seemed almost elusive due to the limited access to policymakers, technology and due process. Do you realize that some people have never seen the Liberian constitution, and have not seen a computer?

I know that Liberia will rise again someday, but when? This will only occur when policymakers begin making decisions that will benefit Liberian citizens in its entirety, instead of a select few.
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