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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

LIBERIA: Catholic commission highlights abuses and violations

MONROVIA, 29 January 2003 (IRIN) - Liberia's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission on Wednesday reported that extensive instances of human rights abuses and violations including arbitrary arrests of civilians by government forces were committed in Liberia in 2002.

Releasing its annual human rights situation report, the Commission said the Liberian government misappropriated an unspecified Taiwanese grant that was intended to provide basic social services including safe drinking water and electricity to the capital city, Monrovia. The city has lacked running water and electricity for over 10 years.

The report documents numerous arrests, detentions and manhandling of human rights lawyers and advocates, including Taiwan Gongloe which occurred in April following a speech he delivered in Guinea. The government said the speech was inciting the public against it.

It also highlighted the detention of the National Director of the Commission Francese Johnson-Morris in a cell that was exclusively for male inmates on the orders of Police Director, Paul Mulbah. She was later released by the Government on grounds that her arrest was a "mistaken identity".

The report also cites the arrest and continued detention of Aloysius Toe for alleged links with the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) group.

On press freedom violations, the catholic rights group recalled that Liberian journalists under the banner of the Press Union of Liberia, were barred by the government from celebrating World Press Freedom Day in May 2002. In December, a reporter with the independent Inquirer Newspaper was flogged by five armed personnel of the presidential elite guard, the Anti Terrorist Unit.

Commenting on the military and security situation, the report said: "The Liberian government has refused calls for dialogue with the LURD rebels, claiming that the Liberian people overwhelming voted for the Government".

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Human Rights


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