Editorial: Significant Human Rights Issues

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The US Human Rights Report on Liberia verbatim

THE LIBERIA NATIONAL Police maintain internal security, with assistance from the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency and other civilian security forces. The Armed Forces of Liberia are responsible for external security but also have some domestic security responsibilities if called upon. The Liberia National Police and Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency report to the Ministry of Justice, while the Armed Forces of Liberia report to the Ministry of National Defense. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

 SIGNIFICANT HUMAN RIGHTS issues included credible reports of: arbitrary killings by police; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; restrictions on freedom of the press, including violence, intimidation and threats against journalists resulting in self-censorship, and unjustified arrests of journalists; serious government corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting; trafficking in persons; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons; the existence or use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and existence of the worst forms of child labor.

 IMPUNITY CONTINUED FOR individuals who committed human rights abuses, including atrocities during the two Liberian civil wars, as multiple investigative and audit reports were ignored. The government made intermittent but limited attempts to investigate and prosecute officials accused of current abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. Impunity continued for government corruption.

THERE WERE SEVERAL reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. On July 29, truck driver Alieu Sheriff was involved in a scuffle with on-duty police officers after his truck was impounded along the Gardnersville Japan Highway in Montserrado County where the Ministry of Transport and Liberia National Police were conducting a joint inspection of non-roadworthy vehicles. According to witnesses, police officers beat and dragged Sheriff from the National Transportation Authority. Sheriff was later found unconscious and taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

 ON AUGUST 31, the Liberia National Police arrested and forwarded to court three police officers, Samuel, N. Borbor, Harris Monger, and Alexander Seakour, after Sherriff’s autopsy showed he died of blunt force trauma. Borbor and Seakour were charged with negligent homicide and criminal facilitation. In September the Liberia National Police delivered the three officers to the Monrovia City Court for prosecution in connection with the Page 2 killing. The three police officers were detained at the Monrovia Central Prison pending a criminal trial.

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