Arrested: November 13, 2013
The case of David Waines highlights problems that can arise when elements of societal power and influence in a foreign nation are challenged. Waines was not a tourist or casual visitor to Liberia, but rather a long-standing member of his local community who fought for justice on behalf of those whom society had silenced. Waines’ non-profit organization in Liberia, Access to Justice, assisted rape and abuse victims through counseling and aid in navigating the Liberian court system. His dedication to pursuing justice for victims led to the prosecution of many powerful people in society, and hence earned him many enemies. Waines was subsequently arrested and charged with rape—in what was clearly an attempt to silence him and stop the increasing pressure on Liberia’s government to prosecute known perpetrators, including those from amongst society’s ranks of power and influence.
Though Waines was eventually released without a trial due to international media attention pointing to proof of his innocence, his case exemplifies the cultural and socio-political pressures and conflicts that may lead to complex form of retribution against Westerners.
David Waines and his wife, Audry, are Canadians who first moved to Liberia in 1986. They have spent the better part of their lives working in the country to improve the health and livelihood of the Liberian people. Through their nonprofit, EQUIP International, the Waines helped Leprosy Health Center build food security. They have established elementary schools, started the first Community Health Ambassador Program, which has trained over 10,000 volunteers, and started a water program, which brings safe drinking water to Liberian communities. In 2005 they launched Access to Justice, a program to care for survivors of abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.
On November 13, 2013, David Waines was arrested after he was accused of raping and impregnating a thirteen-year-old Liberian girl. His accuser has stated that Waines had sex with her from 2011 to 2013. She also has accused him of trying to abort the baby against her will.
“Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed concern for Waines’ health when she visited him in Monrovia Central Prison on April 15, 2014.”
During a preliminary hearing, Judge Evaline Quaqua, rejected Waines’ temporary release. His bail was also rejected because, according the Judge Quaqua, allowing bail for a suspect under a capital offense such as this one is against the law. However, the same court granted Edmond Kassabi bail under a similar situation when he faced trial for gang rape. The judge did order Waines to be moved to a hospital due to severe health issues.
Prison authorities removed him from prison and took him to JFK hospital. However, while Waines was still severely ill, he was transferred back into prison without warning or reason and in contempt of the judge’s orders.
Waines’ health suffered greatly during with multiple life-threatening illnesses. He had a severe and aggressive attack of psoriatic arthritis. Additionally, prison guards will randomly handcuff Waines to his bed. Even Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed concern for Waines’ health when she visited him in Monrovia Central Prison on April 15, 2014.
CURRENT STATUS / AFTERMATH
David Waines was freed in July 2014 after DNA established his innocence. He has since returned to Canada.