Sexual Abuse: The Senate Must Tell Us Where It Stands


By: Julius Kullie Kanubah

President Donald Trump and his Republican Party-controlled Senate had judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed as Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court despite strong claims of sexual abuse in the form of rape as brought forth by a brave and powerful survivor.

Closest comparable to the Trump-Republican exercise of political authority, President George Weah and his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change-controlled Senate are now employing the infrastructural mechanisms of state power to have Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah confirmed as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia despite strong claims of sexual harassment made by a female colleague-staff of his at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Liberia at the United Nations in New York.

The announcement by the Liberian Senate that the confirmation hearings of Ambassador Kemayah as Foreign Minister-designate will commence and proceed on 21st September in the face of such serious claims of sexual harassment is a slap in the face of the quest for a full-scale investigation and logical conclusion to the grave sexual harassment claims made against Ambassador Kemayah by his accuser.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee along with its Chairman, Senator H. Dan Morais of Maryland County, needs to reconsider its decision to proceed with the confirmation of Ambassador Kemayah in the absence of full-scale investigation to establish whether or not the claims against Ambassador Kemayah are legitimate and factual.

In the absence of any such investigation, it would represent a form of injustice to the accuser of Ambassador Kemayah; and that the reputation and legitimacy of Ambassador Kemayah to steer the Foreign Policy of Liberia would remain questionable, if confirmed by the Senate.

It is sad that the Senate as an institution of countervailing power would not, first, request or institute an investigation before proceeding with the confirmation of Ambassador Kemayah.

It might be the case that the Senate, per standard but flawed legislative practice, wants the accuser to file a formal complaint before the Senate or to even appear in the hearing.

While this may seem one way to think, it is fatally an error for such high profile claims of sexual harassment not to have by now claimed the attention of the Senate in the face of the presidential nomination of Ambassador Kemayah and the consequent claims of sexual harassment against him as complained by his accuser to the relevant authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia.

While it is also possible that the Senate might want to commence the confirmation hearing of Ambassador Kemayah and then suspend it afterwards, it still holds that the Senate needs not overlook the nature of the sexual harassment claims against Ambassador Kemayah.

It is crucial that the Senate exercises its structural and agential power to demand Ambassador Kemayah to clear his name, first, before he is given the public platform by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, crucially the votes of the Senate to serve one of the most important cabinet-level positions within our system of governance, with consequences for our domestic and external relations, as regard governing with respect for rights rather than structural violence underpinned by impunity.

It is up to the Senate to send a message on which side it stands and how it would like to be remembered when it comes to issues concerning serious claims of sexual abuse against individuals entrusted with public authority.

Ambassador Kemayah also needs to consider his reputation and that of his family, and do all he can to have the sexual harassment claims against him put to a logical end rather than just flatly dismissing it as he has done through his lawyers.

This must not be a Donald Trump and the Republican Party-style of confirmation hearing with the aim to have a presidential nominee confirmed at the whims and caprices of the President and the ruling Party. The confirmation of Ambassador Kemayah needs not proceed this way and the Liberian Senate must tell us where it stands on sexual abuse, whether rape or harassment.