Liberia – The United States of America has slapped sanctions on Liberia’s ex-warlord and current senator Prince Yormie Johnson on grounds of alleged corruption. The sanctions have been imposed under Global Magnitsky Act, according to which the US government has authority to impose sanctions on human rights offenders, and thereby freeze their assets in US as well as ban their entry into the country. The travel sanctions have also been imposed on Johnson’s wife, Ameria Bovidee Johnson, and their child, Blessing Johnson.
Johnson has been held responsible for the manslaughter of President Samuel Doe in 1990. Doe was captured by Johnson’s forces during Liberia’s civil war that continued for 14 years. A widely circulated video showed heartlessness of Johnson as he sipped on beer while watching his men torture and mutilate Deo who continued to beg for mercy but in vain.
United States has also accused Johnson of widespread corruption as he currently holds a strong position as a political ally to President George Weah, a former international soccer star. “As a senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment,” a statement issued by the U.S. embassy said. “As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the government of Liberia, the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for the return to the involved participants.” The laundering scheme allegedly involves millions of dollars.
According to the US, Johnson receives salary as an intelligence source from Liberian government – an ‘undeserved’ one as he doesn’t provide any sort of intelligence report. The statement by US embassy alleges that the salary is largely to maintain an internal stability. “Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money,” it said.
Johnson has largely denounced the US sanctions calling them vague and not based on facts. “What we want is the facts,” said Johnson. “You can accuse people, but the evidence is what is important. Coming from Uncle Sam’s website — obviously the most powerful nation on earth whose footprint we follow democratically — so you don’t just destroy people’s name by accusing them without facts.”