The United States 2016 Human Rights Report has linked the Liberia National Police to serious abuses, including police harassment and intimidation of detainees.
The report also accused the police of arbitrary arrest and detention, press harassment, and that impunity remained a serious problem despite intermittent and limited government attempts to investigate and prosecute officials accused of abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.
According to the document, government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, recording that on 27 February, three officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Emergency Response Unit (ERU) responded to a call from Bright Farms rubber plantation in Mount Barclay, Montszerrado County where they fired several shots during a confrontation, one of which hit Stephen Bordor, a resident of Bright Farm in the back of his neck, leading to his eventual death.
The report added that the three officers allegedly involved in the shooting were dismissed and charged with manslaughter by a magisterial court, but released on bail, while their cases were submitted to the Montserrado County court for prosecution.
The human rights document further emphasized that last October, prosecution dismissed charges levied against police officers involved in the incident and subsequently reinstated them into the police force.
The report entitled: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 United States Department of State • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor” also disclosed that while the Constitution of Liberia prohibits torture and inhumane treatment by law enforcement officers, the government is yet to institute measures against those involved.
It observed that police and other security officers allegedly abused, harassed, and intimidated persons in police custody, indicating that in October a woman was arrested during an LNP raid, reportedly stripped and severely beaten with nightstick and also kicked between her legs thus, causing her to stomp on her shins.
The document detailed that following the incident, the Inspector General of police directed an investigation into the Grand Gedeh situation in which an LNP commander abused and beat people besides other violations committed.
The report said the LNP commander involved in the incident was relieved of duty, pending outcome of an investigation that has not been concluded.
Previous human rights reports released by the American States Department had linked the LNP to various abuses, which signal a need for reforms in the institution that should protect lives and property.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne