Former Liberian Public Works Minister, Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods, says it is premature for anyone to discuss prosecuting Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who arrived in the US infected with Ebola. He said discussions bordering on a possible prosecution of Mr. Duncan when he arrives back in Liberia or by US authorities for misrepresenting his Ebola status, should be carefully examined before drawing conclusions.
Speaking at a Carter Center forum at the Emory University’s Department of Ethics and International Studies recently, Attorney Woods decried the government’s haste to prosecute a man who is already fighting for his life.
He wondered if Mr. Duncan’s ‘no’ response to a US health declaration questionnaire could be adequately termed as ‘misleading’ considering the open-ended nature of the question.
He announced that should any such prosecution take place, he would be ready and prepared to represent Mr. Duncan.
Attorney Woods described the Liberian government’s response to the Ebola crisis as “woeful, inadequate, and disjointed.” He added that if the government decides to proceed with the case “we will assemble the best legal team to put the Liberian government on trial, for failing the people of Liberia, rather than Mr. Duncan, a victim of institutional neglect.”
“We know too well the trail of the countless displays of wholesale impunity, complicity, neglect and abuses that have occurred recently and over the years under the watchful eyes of this Government. The list is endless,” he added.
Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, is currently in the headlines of the major western media for ‘lying’ about whether or not he had come into contact with an Ebola patient. He is also in quarantine at the Texas Presbyterian hospital receiving treatment after he arrived in the US from Liberia where he reportedly helped some victims of the epidemic.
In an interview with CNN, Liberian president Ellen Sirleaf Johnson had expressed disappointment with Mr. Duncan for providing a misleading answer on the questionnaire and indicated her government’s intention to prosecute him if and when he returns to Liberia. Officials of Liberia’s justice ministry are also apparently laying down the framework for his prosecution, along with others found to be deliberately infesting others with the disease.
Last week, top executives of the ministry reportedly held a discussion on how to prosecute Ebola infected persons who knowingly infect others.