[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

GeneralLiberia news

U.S. documents human rights abuses

--In 2022 report on Liberia

The United States Government’s 2022 Human Rights report has documented significant human rights issues in Liberia, citing credible reports.

It documented unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and arbitrary arrest or detention.

The report also noted serious problems with the independence of the judiciary, serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence and threats of violence against journalists, and serious government corruption.

U.S. 2022 Human Rights report also speaks of lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including child, early, and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting.

Additionally, it detailed crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons, and the existence and enforcement of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.

The U.S. Human Rights report says impunity continued for individuals who committed human rights abuses, including atrocities during two civil wars, as multiple investigative and audit reports were ignored. 

It accuses the government of having made intermittent but limited attempts to investigate and prosecute officials accused of abuses during the year, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. 

It noted that impunity continued for government corruption.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

“There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. Killings by police are investigated by the Professional Standards Division of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and then forwarded to criminal courts for prosecution,” said the U.S. Human Rights Report.

On June 13, the report said, police killed Rufus Fongbeh, an unarmed civilian, in Kakata, Margibi County.

Following an investigation, it said, two LNP officers were formally stripped of duties pending further disciplinary action. 

It recalled that on July 4, LNP officer James Togba shot and killed Orlando Broh (also reported in media as Bloh), an unarmed civilian in Monrovia. 

Citing court records, the U.S. Human Rights report indicated that Togba committed the killing during a botched attempt to extort money from drug addicts. 

“After the LNP dismissed Togba from the force, he was indicted and charged with murder. Togba was awaiting trial at year’s end,” it said.

However, the Human Rights report indicated that there were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities. 

It said the government-mandated Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) reported the government did not address most human rights concerns, including those linked to past unresolved disappearances, thus instilling public fear and curtailing various freedoms. 

Notwithstanding, the U.S. Government said there were reports that Liberian Government authorities physically abused peaceful civilians, including persons in custody or seeking protection. 

It recalled that on January 6, a Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency officer allegedly beat a criminal suspect who had allegedly stolen the officer’s mobile telephone. The matter was still under investigation at year’s end. 

The report detailed that on March 29, the Ministry of Justice dismissed four senior LNP officers – Deputy Commander Amos Williams, Inspector Otis Wallace, Sergeant George Wleh, and Humphrey Karhn – for allegedly beating civilians in Monrovia. 

There were also reports of rape and sexual abuse by government agents. The report indicated that an LNP Officer alleged in a February 7 radio interview that she was raped by Deputy Police Commissioner Joshua During in late 2021 in his office at LNP headquarters. 

After a lengthy investigation, the U.S. report said Officer During was suspended from duty. However, the report said During was later reinstated in his position. In May, it said the Ministry of Justice agreed to prosecute During after the INCHR successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to compel his prosecution. 

At year’s end, the U.S. Government said there was no action on the Supreme Court’s order to proceed with the case. 

Further, it said Harper City Solicitor Thomas Togba Kun was arrested and charged for a May 6 sexual assault of a woman law client. His trial was pending at year’s end.

The Human Rights report said observers stated some security force members believed they were above the law and were aided by a judicial system that rarely convicted and punished abusive officers. 

However, it noted that the government provided some training to increase respect for human rights by the security forces.

Touching the prison conditions in Liberia, the U.S. Human Rights report said they remained harsh and life threatening due to gross overcrowding, food shortages, inadequate sanitary conditions, and poor medical care. 

According to the report, gross overcrowding continued to be a problem, particularly at Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), which held 1,426 inmates in a facility originally built for 374. 

It stated that the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation (BCR) reported 24 prison deaths as of October 31, noting the deaths were due to natural causes with some inmates admitted with existing medical conditions. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Human Rights report said the BCR reported no major incidents of prison violence or prisoner-on-prisoner violence, but stated minor skirmishes were common.

IN what is report sees as improvement, it noted that to ease overcrowding, in February, President George Manneh Weah instructed the Ministry of Justice to pardon 500 inmates, excluding those convicted of rape or armed robbery. 

“On July 26, the president granted executive clemency to an additional 186 inmates, including 31 pretrial detainees,” the report said. 

It added that in December, due to overcrowding and a health crisis at the MCP, the chief justice of the Supreme Court ordered the release of pretrial detainees who were charged with minor offenses and had already served one month or more in detention.

Further, the U.S. report noted that in December, the government began construction of additional facilities at the MCP to lessen overcrowding. 

In partnership with NGOs, it said the BCR renovated facilities in the Kakata, Buchanan, Robertsport, and Tubmanburg prisons. 

To improve inmate nutrition, it said the BCR supported inmate food production pilot projects at the Kakata and Buchanan prisons.

Regarding arbitrary arrest or detention, the U.S. report said the constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provide for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court. However, it said the government did not always observe these prohibitions and rights.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=2] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=3] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=4] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=5] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=6]
Back to top button