Monrovia – The U.S. Department of State 2016 country report on the state of human rights in Liberia continues to outline series of human right abuses in the country.
The executive summary of the REPORT indicated that most serious human rights abuses were those linked to deficiencies in the administration of justice, official corruption, and violence against women and children, including rape, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
Other important human rights abuses included Police abuse, harassment, and intimidation of detainees and others; arbitrary arrest and detention; press harassment; corruption; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); racial and ethnic discrimination; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; mob violence; and child labor.
“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. Corruption at all levels of government continued to undermine public trust in state institutions,” the report noted.
Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
Corruption continues to be identified as a major undermining factor to the country’s development and democracy, yet there are no explicit laws that deal with official corruption.
“Corruption persisted throughout the government, and the World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a serious problem,” the report noted.
The report referenced current and former government officials named in the Global Witness The Deceivers report who are now facing trial for financial crimes including bribery, criminal solicitation, criminal facilitation and economic sabotage.
But the report averred that “Corruption persisted in the legal system. Some judges accepted bribes to award damages in civil cases. Judges sometimes solicited bribes to try cases, release detainees from prison, or find defendants not guilty in criminal cases.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, and jurors. Corrections officers sometimes demanded payment to escort detainees to trial.”
The Police was not exempted from menace. “Police corruption was a problem,” the2016 Human Rights report stated.
“The LNP investigated reports of Police misconduct or corruption, and authorities suspended or dismissed several LNP officers. For example, in February the LNP suspended eight officers from the Criminal Services Division and requested the Ministry of Justice investigate their alleged facilitation of armed robbery.
The case was pending with the Ministry of Justice at year’s end. In June, LNP authorities dismissed, arrested, and jailed an officer for allegedly taking more than L$1.5 million ($16,725) from 20 individuals as “rent payments” and in September dismissed two officers and suspended seven others for various acts, including extortion and harassment of members of the public,” it added.
Respect for the Integrity of the Person
The report noted that there were a few reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, citing a February 27, 2016 incidence in which three officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Emergency Response Unit responded to a call from Bright Farms rubber plantation in Mount Barclay, where they fired several shots during a confrontation, one of which hit one Stephen Bordor--a Bright Farms resident--in the back of the neck, leading to his eventual death.
The three officers were dismissed and charged with manslaughter by the magisterial court. They were released on bail, and their cases were submitted to the Montserrado County court for prosecution. The prosecution dismissed charges in October, and the officers were subsequently reinstated.
“Police and other security officers allegedly abused, harassed, and intimidated persons in Police custody. For example, in October a woman was arrested during an LNP raid, and two LNP officers reportedly stripped and beat her severely.
They hit her head repeatedly with a nightstick, kicked her between her legs, and stomped on her shins. In a separate incident, the Police inspector general directed an investigation into the Grand Gedah LNP commander for abuses including beatings and other human rights violations by Police.
The LNP commander was relieved of duty pending the outcome of an investigation that had yet to conclude at year’s end,” the report recalled.