Former Deputy Foreign Minister Abel Massaley advocates freedom, repatriation for Dr. Malachi Z. York

Original Article Written by David Menjor of the Daily Observer

Liberia’s former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Abel Massaley has called on the United States Government to see reasons and free jailed Dr. Malachi Z. York from detention and subsequently allow the Liberian Government to repatriate him.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer recently in Monrovia, Massaley said the U.S. is a great nation that is said to be championing justice for not only its citizens but many organizations and nations across the world and, as such, they should not hesitate to respect the international conventions to which it is a signatory.

“I was a former chair on foreign relations at the Liberian Senate and I also served as deputy foreign minister of Liberia. I am indeed aware that this man, I mean Dr. Malachi Z. York, is a Liberian citizen. There are court rulings to that effect,” he said.

He added that the U.S. Government should respect the Court rulings from Liberia by releasing Dr. York from prolonged detention and allow his repatriation unconditionally.

Citing Article 29 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Massaley said “The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable; and that he or she shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention.”

The same Article 29, he added, says: “The receiving State shall treat him or her (diplomat) with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his or her person, freedom or dignity.”

“When Dr. Malachi Z. York met all his citizenship requirements as per the law of Liberia, the then sitting President of the Republic of Liberia, Charles Ghankay Taylor appointed him based on a careful and proper vetting to serve as Consul General to the State of Georgia near Atlanta, United States of America,” he said.

According to him, “by virtue of that appointment, and the Vienna Convention which clearly states that a diplomat is immune from prosecution by the receiving State (USA in this case), now is the time for the U.S. to respect the diplomatic tie between it and Liberia by letting the right decisions be implemented (free, allow repatriation of Dr. York).

Massaley said the Garlawolu Law Firm has taken practical steps by uncovering through Criminal Court “B” all documents relevant to Dr. York’s freedom from imprisonment and forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. and is very confident that the Ministry will see logic, after careful review of all of the documents and engage the U.S. Government.

“Cllr. Francis S. Garlawolu (deceased), July 2004, sued the Liberian Government at the 6thCircuit Judical Court in Montserrado County in an effort to compel it (government) to go to the defense of its citizen (Dr. York). The 6th Cirtcuit Judicial Court, by order of Judge Yussif Kaba (now serving in ECOWAS), verified all of the pieces of evidence submitted by Cllr. Garlawolu and ordered the Liberian government to engage the U.S. Government in an effort to free and repatriate Dr. York,” he said.

“Once government makes the appropriate representation at the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia it will be a good start,” he noted, adding: “The U.S. is an architect and signatory to most of the world’s conventions which, I am of the strongest conviction, will see reason and free Dr. York from incarceration.

“It is immaterial as to which president appointed Dr. York to the post of Consul General of Liberia in Georgia, Atlanta, U.S A.  The U.S. government probably has some issues with former President Charles Taylor but that cannot be the base upon which Dr. York’s diplomatic immunity should not be restored,” he pointed out.

According to him, former President Taylor was elected democratically by the people of Liberia and the very election that brought him to power in 1997 was verified by the U.S. as a free and fair election.

“That meant that Taylor had the democratic will of the people of this country to administer the foreign relations of the country and administer the security affairs and to do everything appertaining to the presidency of this country,” he said.

Frowning on why Dr. York was, in the first place, obliged by a U.S. Court to testify on whatever charges levied against him Massaley said Article 31 of the Vienna Convention was blatantly violated against the diplomatic status of Dr. York.

“Article 31 of the Vienna Convention says the receiving nation may neither arrest nor detain a diplomat and the diplomat is immune from the criminal laws as well as the civil and administrative jurisdiction,” he said. He noted that the U.S. should not have obliged Dr. York to testify in whatever way in a court, or be imprisoned for allegations of conspiracies or even committing any of the crimes for which he has already spent over 16 years of the 135 years guilty verdict from the Middle District Court of Georgia in 2004.

“To emphasize, I don’t think it is right for the U.S. government to continue holding Dr. York in prison and keep denying him all rights he deserves. Whatever personal thing they have with Taylor should not interfere with the practices of diplomatic relations. The U.S. is seen today as the leader of the free world and, as such, they should set good examples for the rest of the world to follow,” he further noted.

According to BBC News, an American Pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned for 2 years in Turkey was released last month. “The court convicted him of terror-related charges and sentenced him to three years in jail,” the BBC said. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers over the pastor’s continued detention. He was finally released on October 12th, 2018.  It should be known that he was not a Diplomat as in the case of Dr. York

About the appeal made to President Weah by followers and sympathizers of Dr. York on September 26, 2018, during the United 73rd Session of the Nations General Assembly, Massaley said he hopes that President Weah sees reason and consider the appeal by engaging the U.S. government as soon as possible.

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