JPC Issues 2003 Human Rights Report
January 22, 2004
It is exactly one year today since, in keeping with our institutional mandate, we published our annual human rights situation report on Liberia for the year 2002. This exercise, which constitutes an integral part of the Commission's overall activities, is fundamentally intended to bring to the attention of the Liberian Government and its relevant functionaries concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights, rule of law and democracy their inadequacies as well as omission and commission in the execution of this sacred responsibility in the hope that that they would take corrective measures and improve on their performance.
While the JPC Annual human rights situation report, admittedly, is not exhaustive of the numerous and uncountable abuses committed during a particular reporting period, it by and large attempts to highlight some of those major human rights issues of both local and international interest and significance which unfolded in the country.
In publishing the Commission's annual human rights situation report on Liberia for the year 2003, we feel obliged to comment on the following current national issues impacting either positively or negatively on our lives as a nation and people.
We acknowledge with immense satisfaction the significant improvement in national security with its consequential creation of an enabling environment for the unhindered operation of human rights organizations and the unimpaired exercise of basic constitutional guarantees and freedoms, including freedom of speech and of the press. In this context, we wish to thank the United Nations, ECOWAS, AU, the International Contact Group on Liberia, the United States Government, European Union, as well as all friendly governments for their individual and collective pivotal role in helping to restore sanity to war-ravaged Liberia.
While the JPC has no reasons to believe that soldiers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and other support staff of the Mission, during the course of their mission in the country, would indulge in acts unbecoming of their status as peacekeepers against the Liberian people, it equally cannot rule out, in consideration of the frailty of the human nature, the possibility of some of these peacekeepers conducting themselves in manners which border on human rights violation. Accordingly, the JPC calls on the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) to make public the Status of Forces Agreement it recently signed with UNMIL. In this way, the Commission is of the firm conviction that the public would be fully aware and make use of the channels provided under the agreement for the redress of grievances emanating from their daily interactions with the peacekeepers.
The JPC salutes the three warring parties to the Liberian Conflict, especially the former Government of Liberia for their level of cooperation so far with UNMIL in the implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It is the Commission's ardent hope that with the resumption of the DDRR Program come January 20, the three warring parties, in the spirit of true nationalism would continue their cooperation with UNMIL in unconditionally disarming their fighters, thereby helping to restore the lost dignity of the Liberian people.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement calls for the inclusion in the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) qualified individuals with integrity. The pitfalls experienced so far in adhering to this provision of the accord, is certainly no excuse for a conscious non-compliance with this provision of the document. Already, at the level of the Liberia National Police Force, some individuals known to have flagrantly abused the rights of the Liberian people with impunity during the despotic and tyrannical regime of exiled former President Taylor are now serving in the Transitional Police Force. The JPC has in its possession records on some of the very individuals now serving in the current Transitional Police Force who are known for their alleged involvement gang-rapping a lady in Cape Palmas, Maryland County in 2002.
Indeed, in our quest for the restoration of justice and peace to our beloved country, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that only those individuals with the requisite credentials for respecting human rights and the rule of law should be placed in positions of trust.
As we close this chapter in our incessant struggle for justice and peace as the basis for a tranquil and ordered society, we wish to reiterate and renew our call for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in Liberia to serve as a forum where individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for the level of horrendous atrocities committed against the Liberian nation and people can account for their actions. Such a forum, we believe, remains the most conceivable means for the prevention of a recurrence of our nightmare.
Emerging out of a 14-year devastating and fratricidal civil upheaval characterized by some of the worst forms of human rights violations, it inarguably behooves us as a people to once again begin to take stock of our recent past experiences with a view to taking on those characteristic traits that would facilitate the restoration of our missing humanity. Much to the chagrin and annoyance of the civilized world, however, it appears that most Liberians, despite the remarkable improvement in our dreadful national situation, have adamantly refused to Part Company with those acts of hooliganism and jungle justice, which are legacies of the civil war.
Our aspiration for readmission into the comity of civilized nations impinges upon us the responsibility of tenaciously adhering to moral virtues over vices in line with the principles of respect for the dignity of the human person and the rule of law. As a nation and people, we run the risk of perpetual international isolation unless we heed the admonition or warning of the international community and seize this last opportunity afforded us to abandon violence in favor of love for our common patrimony and compatriots.
This is why the JPC is deeply concerned about the level of mob justice and other acts of savagery and barbarism permeating the Liberia society with the burning to death of suspected criminals in the country now superseding the principle of due process under the law. While the Commission does not condone or sanction any act bordering on criminality, it totally rejects and abhors mob justice as a means of punishing crimes, as has been the situation in recent times in Liberia with Monrovia alone accounting for more than 95 percent of mob justice cases since it was introduced more than three months ago. Under our criminal justice system, an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. The system also clearly sets out punishments in proportion to the degree of a particular crime committed. There are no legal bases, and by extension, moral imperatives, whatsoever, for lynching an individual on mere suspicion of having committed a crime such as theft of property.
The JPC recalls that on October 17 of the year under review, one of two suspected armed robbers became victim of mob justice in Harbel, Margibi County when he was arrested and burned alive while reportedly attempting to escape during police preliminary investigation.
On November 1 of the same period, two brothers, Marley Seepo and Austin Seepo were mobbed to death in Gardnersville, Montserrado County on suspicion of their alleged involvement in an armed robbery, which took place in the area. Similar incident occurred in the Paynesville, Red Light area where a suspected burglar became victim of mob justice when he was arrested, severely beaten and subsequently burned to death. Again, on December 31 of the reporting period, a resident of West Point, Whehtay Jay, was beaten and burned to death on suspicion of theft of property. The victim was said to have stolen some dried shark wings from a Fanti Fisherman in the Township.
Commission therefore calls on the NTGL Government, through the Justice Ministry, to take steps in stamping out this wave of lawlessness, which is slowly, but surely becoming endemic in the Liberian Society.
Our ultimate goal for the existence of an orderly and peaceful Liberian society cannot and will not be actualized unless those mechanisms necessary for engendering such conditions, as provided for under the Liberian Constitution, as a matter of national priority, are put in place. In this context, we hereby recommend to the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA), the setting up of the Claims Court in line with Article 26 of the Liberian Constitution. The setting up of the Claims Court, we firmly believe, will go a long way in enhancing the campaign for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Liberia.
Article 26 states: "Where any person or any association alleges that any of the rights granted under this Constitution or any legislation or directives are constitutionally contravened, that person or association may invoke the privilege and benefit court direction, order or writ, including a judgment of unconstitutionality; and anyone injured by an act of the government or any person acting under its authority, whether in property, contract, tort or otherwise, shall have the right to bring suit for appropriate redress. All such suits brought against the government shall originate in a Claims Court; appeals from judgment of the Claims court shall lie directly to the Supreme Court."
Since the adoption of the current Liberian Constitution in 1986, essential as this provision of the organic law is to our national existence, successive national legislatures, either consciously or unconsciously, have neglected or failed to set up the claims court. Such failure on the part of these legislatures, in our view, amounts to a renegation on their promise to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution.
Finally, we wish to thank all of our partners, both local and international, for their remarkable level of cooperation without which the JPC would not have accomplished its mission during forward to a more cordial and closer work relationship with these ng the period under review. As we enter the New Year 2004, we look partners.
May God continue to bless the JPC and save Liberia. I THANK YOU.
President Charles Taylor on New Year day announced that the year 2003 would be "one of trials." The President did not elaborate but stressed that in the New Year Liberians living in exile must return home to foster reconciliation and peace. He emphasized that his call for general amnesty for all Liberians, including those fighting his government, was a genuine one. The Liberian leader spoke during a worship service at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Arthington, his birthplace. The President renewed his call for general amnesty extended to all exiled Liberians, including rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
The government of Liberia on January 10 released from further detention two officials of the Inter-religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) charged with treason. Mr. David Kiazolu and Rev. Christopher Toe, Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General, respectively of the IRCL were released after state prosecutors filed a nolle prosequoi motion before the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice dropping all charges against the two men. The government accused them of collaborating with LURD when it discovered in the IRCL Secretariat's possession a communication from LURD addressed to the President of the Inter-religious Council of Liberia, Catholic Archbishop Michael K. Frances in connection with the ongoing peace process. Justice Minister Cllr. L. Koboi Johnson briefing journalists later on the issue at his Justice Ministry office, said government took the decision after its investigation concluded that the two men were acting in good faith in helping to bring the ongoing Liberian Rebel War to an end through their organization, the IRCL. The two were arrested in December 2002. Before they were formally charged, the JPC, through a writ of habeas corpus, had secured their release from further detention after they were held in excess of the 48 hours required by Article 21(f) of the Liberian Constitution within which an accused is to be charged or set free.
During the reporting period the Ministry of Justice denied reports of government's plans to arrest Counselor Charles Brumskine upon his arrival into the country. The Ministry's Public Relations Officer, Charles Matadley, said the Justice Ministry, as the prosecuting arm of government would not keep secret plans to prosecute anyone. The Ministry's denial followed a press statement earlier issued by the Friends of Brumskine (FOB) on January 16th in which the group claimed that it had credible information that the Liberian Government had hatched a plan to arrest the Opposition Liberian Unification Party (LUP) Presidential hopeful, Counselor Charles W. Brumskine.
A three-day National Consultative Workshop with representatives of registered political parties, interest Groups and Pro-democracy Organizations opened on January 8 at the headquarters of the Elections Commission in Sinkor. The ECOM said the workshop was aimed at creating an ideal forum where the commission and representatives of all duly registered political parties in the country, Interest Groups, Pro-democracy Organization and Government Ministries would meet to dialogue and consult on a number of critical issues of the 2003 general presidential, legislative, municipal and chieftaincy elections. The commission said the workshop would also afford the participants the opportunity to get an idea on the thinking of the Liberian people, especially stakeholders on several major issues concerning the election process.
The chairman of the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Cyril Allen on January 22 warned partisans of the NPP against violent attack on members of opposition parties interested in contesting the presidency in the 2003 general and presidential elections in the country. Addressing journalists at his NPP Headquarters in Sinkor, he said neither the Liberian government nor the NPP would tolerate any act of lawlessness or the use of violence against any member of the opposition. Chairman Allen sternly admonished his partisans that the government, in accordance with law, will not hesitate to deal with such behavior.
Mr. Allen's warning was in reaction to allegations by the Friends of Brumskine to the effect that government was planning to arrest LUP presidential hopeful Charles Brumskine.
During the reporting period some citizens of three of Liberia's fifteen counties - Lofa, Bomi, and Cape Mount filed a joint petition for a writ of Mandamus before the Supreme Court of Liberia to order the National Legislature to ensure that a National census was conducted before the holding of the October 14, 2003 presidential, legislative, municipal and chieftaincy elections. The citizens, in their petition filed through their Legal Counsel, Cllr. Jenkins Scott, prayed the Supreme Court to issue a peremptory writ of mandamus against the National Legislature to perform its constitutional and legal duties in keeping with Article 39 of the Liberian Constitution. Article 39 states "The Legislature shall cause a census of the Republic to be undertaken every ten years."
In response to the citizens' petition, the Supreme Court convened an extraordinary session to deliberate on the matter. At the hearing, Counselors Jenkins Scott and Marcus Jones, President of the Bar Association, represented the Petitioners. The Supreme Court selected Ishmael P. Campbell, James E.E. Pierre, Lawrence A. Morgan, Henry Reed Cooper and Emmanuel S. Kromah as amici curiae or ‘Friends of the Court.'
Following arguments pro and con, the Supreme Court dismissed petitioners' petition describing it as "unmeritorious."
President Charles Taylor, during the reporting period appointed James Chelley and Madam Mary Brownell to the Elections Commission. These appointments expanded ECOM's membership from five to seven. Both Mr. Chelley and Madam Brownell were selected from a list of eight prominent individuals submitted to the President by 12 opposition parties to increase the membership of the Election Commission. In making the appointment, President Taylor said the decision to name the two individuals to the commission is intended to show that the government is not operating in isolation of the opposition.
On June 1 an official at the United States Embassy near Monrovia, Mr. Christopher Datta said the U.S. government did not see the compelling need to intervene militarily in the Liberian civil war. He said the Liberian situation was a civil crisis, which was not a threat to the United States. Hence, it did not require the military intervention of the U.S. government. The U.S. Embassy official made the statement in reaction to numerous calls for the US to intervene in the Liberian crisis.
One June 3 President Charles Taylor said he was prepared not to contest the October 14, 2003 presidential elections if those he referred to as "the old generation of politicians" would also stay away from the process. He said it was time for these politicians to step aside and give way to a new breed of Liberians. President Taylor made the statement shortly before he departed for the Accra Peace Talks in Accra, Ghana.
On June 4 President Charles Taylor declared his willingness to leave the presidency if he was perceived to be the main obstacle to peace in Liberia. The Liberian Leader made the declaration in Accra, Ghana, at the opening of Peace Talks on Liberia among the warring parties and other stakeholders to the Liberian Civil Conflict. The current peace initiative is under the auspices of the international community, including the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), United States of America (USA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), and the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL).
On June 4, the United Nations-backed War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone indicted the Liberian Leader, Charles Taylor, while he was in Accra, Ghana attending the opening session of the Liberia Peace Talks. He was indicted for his alleged role in the Sierra Leonean civil war. An arrest warrant reportedly issued by the court to the Ghanaian Government was however not served on the accused. President Taylor safely returned home on the same day he was indicted.
On June 5 upon his return from Accra, the Liberian leader announced an alleged plan by "some government officials backed by some powerful embassies near the capital" to have removed his government by force of arms. He said the plan was hatched while he was in Accra, Ghana attending the peace talks on Liberia. He said these "senior officials" were influenced to stage a coup d' etat intended to have aborted his return to the country following reports of his indictment by the UN Special War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone. President Taylor then announced the formal resignation of Vice President Moses Blah. Although he did not say whether or not the resignation was in connection with the attempted coup plot, President Taylor told the nation that he accepted the Vice President's resignation letter.
At a news conference later in Liberia President Taylor said that the success of the Accra Peace Talks on Liberia depended to a large extent on the revocation of his indictment and the dropping of the charges against him by the Special Court. He made the statement amidst mounting calls for him to cooperate with the Special War Crimes Tribunal.
During the period under review, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Rudd Lubbers, said a power-sharing arrangement was the only way forward in ending Liberian civil war. He said the circle of violence that has engulfed the country was having rather catastrophic humanitarian consequences on Liberia. He challenged the leaders of the fighting forces to act prudently in ending the war.
During the reporting period, Information Minister Reginald Goodridge warned against the unceremonial departure of President Charles Taylor from the presidency. He said his departure under such circumstances would certainly lead to violence in Liberia. Mr. Goodridge further warned that any disorderly transition in Liberia could be a bad precedence that could lead to continuous violence, political revenge and total instability.
On August 11, 2003, President Charles Taylor turned over state power to his Vice President Moses Z. Blah and subsequently went into exile in Nigeria. At the turning over ceremony held in the parlours of the Executive Mansion in Monrovia, the President told the Liberian people and the World that he was making the ultimate sacrifice of leaving the presidency in the interest of peace and noted "God willing, I'll come back." Three African Leaders witnessed the occasion. They are South African President Thabo Mbeki, Ghanaian President John Kufuor, and the President of Mozambique, Joaquin Chissano.
Immediately following the turning over ceremony at the Executive Mansion, ex-President Taylor, accompanied by the visiting African Heads of State, drove to the Roberts International Airport, RIA, and boarded the plane for Lagos, Nigeria from where he flew to the Southern Nigerian State of Calaba to begin his life in exile.
On August 18, exactly one week following the resignation and departure of former President Taylor from Liberia, the parties to the Liberian Conflict signed a comprehensive Peace Agreement to end almost two decades of civil war in Liberia. Under the accord, a transitional government headed by Mr. Charles Gyude Bryant and his Vice Chairman, Wesley Momoh Johnson, is to lead Liberia for a two-year period into the 2005 general and presidential elections.
The National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), under the Accra Agreement, is to take seat on October 14 while its mandate will expire on the third Monday of January 2006 at which time the elected Government is to be inaugurated. The comprehensive peace agreement also provides that the seating of the, NTGL, shall coincide with the resignation of the entire former government of Liberia, to include the three branches of the government, as well as all security and paramilitary agencies not created by an act of the Liberian National Legislature.
Among other things, the Agreement further provides that LURD, MODEL and all irregular forces of the former government of Liberia shall cease to exist as military forces upon completion of disarmament and that there shall be no restrictions on members of the LURD and MODEL rebels to engage in national politics.
The agreement also provides for a 76-member unicameral Legislature with 12 each from the three warring parties; 18 from the 18 registered political parties; 7 from Civil Society, and 15 from the 15 Counties of Liberia.
Following the signing of the comprehensive Peace Agreement and the election of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the NTGL, the JPC on August 27, 2003, issued a press statement in which the Commission expressed its immense gratitude over the out come of the Accra Peace Talks on Liberia. The JPC, in the statement extolled the efforts of the Peace brokers, including the EU, ICGL, UN, ECOWAS, AU, the United States Government, and the entire international community for their unwavering stance in helping to restore sanity to war-torn Liberia.
The JPC then welcomed and hailed the deployment of the interposition force or ECOMIL as a forerunner of a higher international stabilization force to monitor the cease-fire and eventually disarm, demobilize, and restructure the nation's security apparatus. The Commission also welcomed wholeheartedly the seating of a transitional government to lead Liberia to the holding of free, fair, transparent and democratic elections in two years' time.
In conclusion the JPC said it firmly believes that retributive justice, as opposed to restorative justice in post-conflict Liberia, would certainly have a far-reaching impact in forestalling the recurrence of the Liberian people's nightmare as well as fighting the culture of impunity.
On October 14 the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), Charles Gyude Bryant and Wesley Momoh Johnson were inaugurated in the rotunda of the Capitol Building for a two-year term of office.
The three Warring Parties to the Liberian Conflict elected NTGL Chairman Bryant, a business executive and Vice Chairman Johnson, a politician from a shortlist of nominees on August 21 in Accra, Ghana at the end of peace talks on the Liberia Civil Conflict. They are to lead the country to national elections in 2005.
In his inaugural address, Chairman Bryant promised to institute measures in helping to alleviate the economic hardship brought upon the Liberian people by the war years. He made specific reference to the astronomical prices paid for such basic commodities as rice and petroleum products.
NTGL Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, during the reporting period said Liberia, once a beacon of hope in Africa, had now become a failed state. Referring to his mission as a ‘rescue' one, Chairman Bryant promised to salvage the country from total collapse.
Commenting on previous transitional government arrangements in Liberia, the Liberian Leader said for the third time in 23 years Liberians were constrained to set aside the constitution - organic laws of the land in pursuit of change of national leadership through extra-constitutional means.
As the scramble for positions in government among the parties to the Comprehensive Accra Peace Agreement reached an alarming proportion during the reporting period, NTGL Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant clarified that in the allocation of positions to the various parties, the Accra Agreement excluded such government agencies as the Central Bank of Liberia, the Armed Forces of Liberia and other positions within the civil society system. Under the circumstance, he noted that any vacancies in these areas would be filled either by the civil service procedure or through "public policy protocol regarding executive appointment". In this respect, the Liberian Leader admonished heads of Ministries, Autonomous Agencies and Public Corporations not to allow anyone to assume responsibility of any Executive position within their institutions without a letter of appointment from the Executive.
Chairman Bryant's warning came in the wake of the unauthorized and unilateral nominations by the Rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) of two individuals as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, respectively.
The Catholic Justice and Peace (JPC), in commenting on the state of affairs in the country, especially regarding the level of seeming insincerity on the part of the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Accord, issued a press statement on October 22. In the statement, the Commission expressed apprehension about what appeared to be "an unholy marriage" among the warring parties; Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) on one hand and the Government of Liberia (GOL) on the other, in the wake of the nullification of the elections of representatives for the 15 counties to the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA).
The JPC in the statement said its apprehension came against the back- ground of the failure by the warring parties to adhere to the repeated calls by the United Nations and the United States Government concerning the nomination of individuals with integrity to public offices in the NTGL.
The JPC alluded to the recent election of George Dweh of LURD and Cllr. Eddington Varmah of the GOL to head the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) with the same number of votes as speaker and deputy speaker respectively. This development at the capital, the Commission maintained "questions the sincerity and credibility of the NTLA to truly represent the wishes and aspirations of the Liberian people during this transitional period."
The JPC's statement indicated that the "unholy marriage" of the warring parties at this crucial time at the Transitional Legislative Assembly could dampen the spirit of the Accra Peace Accord, especially when it related to the confirmation of nominees void of factional sentiments. "What is most disturbing", the JPC added "is the fact that the warring parties could be entering into such marriage for the sole purpose of fostering their personal agenda to the detriment of the NTGL, yea the Liberian people.
According to the statement, the indifference and apathy shown by that august body to public sentiments against the recent election of its leadership in the absence of the representatives of the 15 counties did not augur well for the kind of political transformation envisaged under the Accra Peace Accord.
Concluding, the statement frowned on the decision by the Chief Mediator on the Liberian Peace Process, retired General Abdul Salami Abubakar, to nullify the elections of the 15 Counties' representatives to the NTLA on grounds that LURD and MODEL had complained against the holding of the elections in Monrovia.
During the reporting period, NTGL Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant announced the restoration of cordial relationship between Liberia and neighboring Ivory Coast. The announcement followed a one-day working visit to Abidjan, la Cote d'Ivoire with his Ivorian Counterpart, President Laurent Gbagbo to discuss sub regional issues. Relations between the two sisterly countries remained acrimonious during the regime of exiled President Charles Taylor, with the two countries trading accusations and counter-accusations of plan to destabilize the other.
The Liberian Leader also paid similar visits to neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, respectively.
During the early hours of Thursday, January 23, 2003, police in Monrovia shot dead a man identified as Emmanuel Flomo in connection with armed robbery at the compound of the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Sinkor while allegedly engaging in armed robbery. In a press conference later the same day, Assistant Police Director for Public Affair Inspector Singbe Johnson told reporters that during the early Thursday morning, Emmanuel Flomo and two others entered the JFK compound with arms and when the men observed the police on guard, they opened fire. Inspector Johnson further alleged that the police responded leaving Emmanuel Flomo caught in the gun battle while the others escaped. Mr. Johnson disclosed that a tape-recorder was stolen from a black BMW vehicle with license plate 4104-PC, which he said, belongs to one Rexford Weeks.
Confusion broke out on January 29 on the campus of the E. Jonathan Goodridge School in Barnersville Estate, leaving several students wounded. According to reports, most of the students sustained injuries from the beatings they received from police officers who had gone to quell the riots on the school campus. The rowdy incident grew out of discontentment of a number of students for the payment of LD $ 25.00 charged by the school administration to have been proposed by students' council government. According to sources, what really ignited the trouble was the barring of students who have not paid the LD$ 25.00 form entering their respective classrooms by Bible instructor Peter C. Logan, who also is the chairman of the disciplinary committee.
The commander of the Liberia Seaport Police in Maryland County Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Moore was disrobed in connection with a rape incident. Lt./Col. Moore was alleged to have been involved in the rape of a resident (name withheld). The chief of operations of the Maryland Seaport Police Col. Yekeh said the National Port Authority (NPA) management disrobed the officer in keeping with law. Lt. Moore was turned over to the Liberia National Police in Maryland county for further investigation.
Soldiers assigned in Dean's Town, Kokota District in Bong County recently tortured four men. The men were maltreated in connection with the reported disappearance of a boy only identified as George in the town. The victims were identified as Amos Kollie, Wilfred Gweh, Richard Zoegar, and Zuno, the last named is the father of the missing child George.
In January Random shooting by Government Security Forces created panic in Grand Bassa County leaving one person killed and several others severely injured. On January 31, a driver of vehicle marked 501 GP, identified as Eric Jallah Gezzee, was allegedly shot to death at Timbo Bridge Joint security checkpoint bordering Grand Bassa and Rivercess counties. According to report, the late Gezzee loaded his vehicle at the Monrovia-junction parking, in lower Harlandsville Township in District #3 and departed for Sinoe County. Upon his arrival at the checkpoint, the security officers ordered him to pay L$ 50.00, which he did. But the checkpoint commander ordered him to pay an additional L$25.00 or else he will not pass. The late Gezzee's failure to honor the last order erupted to heavy argument, and the commander at the checkpoint, Saturday Diggs shot and instantly killed the driver in cold blood. After the occurrence of the brutal incident, commander Diggs reported himself to the joint security in Rivercess County on February 1. He was then arrested and transferred to the joint security in Grand Bassa County for prosecution.
President Charles Taylor warned security forces in the country against harassing peaceful citizens. He made specific mention of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Liberia National Police. The President spoke on February 5 at the Ducor Broadcasting Corporation, a private owned station upon his return from the African Union Summit in Ethiopia. President Taylor said Liberians have done nothing wrong to the security for which they should be harassed.
Normal business and other activities, including schools were on February 14, disrupted in the Duala area as a result of a shooting incident that erupted between members of the Presidential elite force, Anti Terrorist Unit (ATU) and the Special Operation Division (SOD). The incident occurred at about 9:34 am in front of the Monrovia Club Breweries Compound. The shooting did not only disrupt normal business activities but also saw marketers abandoning their wares for fear of their dear lives. Some frightened parents rushed on the campuses of schools in the area to get their children home to relative safety. The shooting lasted for about five minutes.
Another shooting incident took place in Paynesville in which a police officer, Thomas Kpangbai of the Special Operation Division (SOD) and a 16-year-old girl, Hawa Siafa, met their untimely death when they were shot and killed instantly by another government security officer. The incident occurred on February 16, at the "Gobachop Market" in Paynesville where a throng of marketers had begun their commercial activities, which were later disrupted by the ugly incident of lawlessness. According to reports, the victims got killed when Warrant Officer Lama Kollie of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), armed with an AK-47 assault rifle began firing sporadically following a scuffle with the late police officer. Warrant officer Kollie at close range fired several rounds of bullets into the upper chest of the victim, killing him instantly. After sensing danger, the officer began shooting sporadically at which time a stray bullet unfortunately hit victim Sata Siafa, a teenage girl in a make shift cook shop at the Gobachop center.
During the reporting period, Authorities at the Ministry of National Defense in Monrovia announced measures to curb the wave of lawlessness and shooting incidents, which had resulted to the death of innocent civilians in Monrovia and other parts of the country. The latest of these occurred in Paynesville near Monrovia and Buchanan Grand Bassa County, where a security officer, for unknown reasons, reportedly shot one Eric Jallah Gazzee. Apart from these incidents gun-totting fighters roam market places, entertainment centers and other public gatherings brandishing weapons, and threatening the population. In order to check all this, Minister Chea revealed that he had already ordered the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of both the Militia and other regular forces that with immediate effect anyone caught discharging fire arms illegally in Monrovia and its environs would be detained for 12 months at the Post Stockade.
Also during the reporting period, The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) called on authorities of the Ministry of National Defense to speedily investigate circumstances surrounding the mysterious disappearance of one of its personnel first lieutenant Francis Prince Began Sumo from the Defense Ministry on Benson Street. In a formal complaint filed with the JPC, relatives of the victim, quoting eyewitnesses accounts said on Sunday February 16, 2003, the commanding officer of the AFL first battalion commander, Colonel Daniel K. Bracewell, allegedly stabbed first lieutenant Sumo in the stomach and head and subsequently took him away in a military pick-up marked 1/BN AFL.
The Ministry of Defense after a week confirmed the death of first lieutenant Francis Sumo, but clarified that the soldier broke his neck after he jumped from a vehicle that was heading to the battlefront. First Battalion Commander Col. Daniel K. Bracewell was alleged to have stabbed 1st/Lt. Sumo on February 16, near Defense Ministry. The Ministry on February 27, said contrary to media reports that the soldier died at the front of the Defense Ministry as a result of stabbing, the soldier died on the way to the front. The Defense Ministry quoted second lieutenant Mamadee Kanneh a Brigade soldier, who was said to have being riding in the same vehicle as 1st/Lt. Sumo that in his determination not to go to the frontline jumped out of the vehicle and broke his neck. The Defense Ministry further explained that efforts to move troops to the frontline by Col. Bracewell was challenged by the late Sumo who refused to be mobilized for this emergency. This refusal, according to Defense was buttressed by the soldiers attempt to shy away from his responsibility by jumping out of the vehicle. Col. Bracewell, according to Defense Minister Daniel Chea was said to have secretly buried the body to an unknown site.
Normal activities were paralyzed for three days in Ganta and its environs in Nimba County as a result of forced conscription of civilians into the army by militiamen. It all started when a gang of militiamen in two pick-ups abducted in broad daylight and in clear view of several residents, 15 students from four of the seven high schools in the town. Parents of the abducted students expressed fear for their children's lives. Three of the students conscripted were identified as Ashmun G. S. Sua, Victor Kulah and Josephus Stewart.
At least two persons were killed and fifteen others wounded when a grenade blasted on Thursday, March 27, 2003, around the Point-Four junction area on the Bushrod Island. The incident occurred at about 10:00 a.m. when an officer of the Presidential elite force, the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), reportedly arrested a sidewalk petroleum products peddler. Investigation conducted by the JPC revealed that the incident occurred when a buyer of the product identified only as Vivion approached the trader identified as Alex Boye, to buy some petroleum products. When Alex, believed to be in his 20s, went to get the product from a nearby house in the community, he came and met with the ATU officer whose name was not disclosed. The fully attired ATU officer, who alleged that the petroleum product was stolen form the compound of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) then decided to seize the product from Alex who in turn put up a stiff resistance. Both Alex and the officer who was not in possession of a gun at the time tussled over the container of petroleum product for some time. Apparently aggravated over the refusal of Alex to release the container to him, the ATU officer immediately pulled out a hand grenade to frighten Alex who kept holding on to the container. It was at this time, according to the investigation, that the grenade exploded instantly killing Alex and the officer. Several others who stood nearby got wounded as a result of the explosion.
On May 28 two officers of the Special Security Service (SSS) flogged a 23-year-old petit trader to death. The victims, Fayiah Gibson, died hours later after the officers assaulted him on Capital Hill, near the Executive Mansion.
During the reporting period, United States Ambassador John Blaney warned the fighting forces in the Liberian Conflict against atrocities and other crimes against humanity. Ambassador Blaney's warning came amidst persistent reports of rape, looting and murder being carried out by the belligerent forces.
He cautioned that those involved in these heinous crimes would face the full penalty of the law. He added that the days of impunity were over. He further admonished the warring parties to cease all forms of hostilities in their respective controlled areas, respect the rule of law and seriously adhere to the Accra Peace Agreement. Ambassador Blaney said that the war was over and urged all Liberians to abandon violence and mayhem and build a better Liberia.
During the reporting period, a group of rebels believed to be from the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and other Liberian mercenaries operating in the Ivory Coast attacked a small logging town in Grand Gedeh County called Beam located near the border with the Ivory Coast. The attacks took place over the weekend of January 17-19. According to the reports, the attack on the small logging town came in the wake of reports of a threat by Ivorian government forces who had earlier threatened to attack Liberia if the country did not stop its alleged support to the rebels in the Ivory Coast. But subsequent reports from the area suggested that Liberian government troops moved into the area and repelled the attacks. Government troops later regained control of the border town.
Rebels of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) reportedly regained control of the provincial city of Tubmanburg 60 kilometers northwest of Monrovia, where ferocious battle had occurred between them and government troops. According to Defense Minister Daniel Chea the LURD forces reoccupied Tubmanburg, after they had earlier recaptured the town of Bopolu in Gbarpolu County.
Several persons who fled the LURD rebels attack on the provincial city of Robertsports, Grand Cape Mount County on February 13 arrived in Monrovia. Most of them were children, women and the elderly. They arrived in Monrovia aboard fishing canoes carrying white flags. The condition of the escapees was desperate, as most of them were unable to come along with any of their personal effects. LURD rebels on February 10, 2003 reportedly attacked the administrative seat of Grand Cape Mount County and Toe's Town in Grand Gedeh County causing several people to flee for their lives. In a related development, Justice Minister Cllr. Lavela Koboi Johnson said credible information received by the Liberian government revealed that rebels of the LURD that recently attacked Bomi County were Kamajor fighters from Sierra Leone. He made the disclosure February 13, at the Justice Ministry when he addressed a news conference.
The rebel LURD reportedly agreed to dialogue with the government at any place and time to be arranged and facilitated by the ECOWAS parliamentarian, the Inter religious Council and International Community. According to reports gathered, on February 9, Liberian Senators and LURD made the concession the day before at consultative talks held in Freetown, Sierra Leone. They were brought together by ECOWAS parliamentarians with the aim of ending the rebellion against the government.
The government of Liberia informed the United Nations Security Council about what it said was the continued destabilization of Liberia by the government of Guinea through its military and other support to the LURD. In the communication, the Liberian Government described LURD as a terrorist organization that was using armed violence to overthrow the democratically elected Government of Liberia. In the letter addressed to the President of the Security Council and dated February 18, President Taylor informed the Security Council that the government of Guinea facilitated the establishment of LURD by permitting the recruitment, training and arming of Liberian refugees living in refugee camps in the territory of Guinea.
During the period under review, the chairman of the ruling National Patriotic Party, Mr. Cyril Allen called for the conscription of all able-bodied men in the country into the military to defend the state against the rebel insurrection. Mr. Allen said the Liberian leader, President Charles Taylor should exercise his constitutional powers to ensure that such was effected, but suggested that only the handicapped and people whose medical inability are authenticated should be exempted. The NPP's chairman Allen made the assertions when he addressed a news conference in Monrovia. He noted that he was serious about the matter, and would want the president to give due consideration to it. He had called the news conference to react to a statement published in a local daily and attributed to the student integration Movement (SIM), a University of Liberia campus-based political party. The students in their statement had called on the ruling party to apologize to the Liberian people for failing to deliver on their promises made during the 1997 elections campaign season.
Fleeing rebels of LURD reportedly left behind ugly scenes of ransacked houses and bloated bodies of several individuals, including three relief workers of the Adventist Development Agency (ADRA) in Toe Town, Grand Gedeh County. The reports say the town which was jam-packed with Ivorian refugees prior to the rebel attack was now a no-go area days following its recapture by forces loyal to the government of Liberia. Commenting on the attack, Defense Minister Daniel Chea said while Liberia has no interest in military confrontation with its neighbors, the continued use of Ivorian territory as launching pad for military activities against Liberia and its citizenry was provocative especially in the face of ECOWAS initiative in finding ways and mean of discouraging numerous border disputes across the sub-region. During the early morning hours of February 28, the car in which three relief workers were riding enroute to the southeast was attacked leaving them dead. A statement issued from ADRA's international headquarters in Silver Spring Maryland, USA named it's country director for Liberia, Emmanuel Sharpolu, Kaare Lund of ADRA Norway and driver Musa Kieta as members of its staff who reportedly went missing after being caught in the fighting in Toe Town. The Defense Ministry is said to be investigating the incident.
The Liberian government ordered the ministry of defense to expand its investigation into the Toe Town massacre in collaboration with a number of local and international agencies. The agencies are the European Union, United Nations office in Liberia, the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL), the Liberia Bar National Association and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC). Contrary to the government's order, the Defense Ministry conducted the investigation leaving out the independent institutions.
In a letter to Defense Minister Daniel Chea, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission registered its displeasure over the Ministry's decision to unilaterally investigate the incident. The Commission, in the letter said the action of the Defense Ministry created doubts and questioned the credibility of its investigation into the incident.
In the face of increasing rebel advances near the capital, President Charles Taylor revealed that Government had begun ordering arms to defend its sovereignty. The President said the decision to import arms is supported by Article 15 of the United Nations Charter of a sovereign country under foreign aggression. He made the statement on Wednesday, March 26, at Brewerville outside Monrovia when he briefed reporters hours after Government troops had foiled an attack by rebels of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) at the Rick's Displaced Center on Tuesday, March 25, 2003. The President had gone to Brewerville about five kilometers from Rick's Institute to access the security and humanitarian situation. The Liberian leader disclosed that government has started importing arms follow a United Nations arms embargo placed on the country.
On March 27 the provincial city of Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County came under attack from armed men from Ivory Coast. It was not clear as to who might have attacked the southeastern town, but a source pointed finger at forces of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), currently fighting the Government of Liberia. The LURD rebels fighting to topple the Taylor-led government by force of arms reportedly captured the city of Ganta in Nimba County.
The government of Liberia announced that its forces repelled LURD forces from the provincial city of Gbarnga, Bong County. Reports from Defense authorities had indicated that retreating LURD forces had taken over the commercial city of Ganta near the border with Guinea.
During the reporting period, rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) attacked and took over the provincial city of Ganta, Nimba County in Northern Liberia. As a result of the attack, and the series of battles that ensued between the attackers and forces loyal to President Charles Taylor for control of the city, Ganta was extensively damaged while thousands of residents fled into the bushes and nearby villages.
In April 2003, the newly formed rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), attacked Maryland County in Southeastern Liberia from Grand Gedeh County. MODEL is predominantly made up of kinsmen and militias loyal to slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe of the Krahn Ethnic Group. The group later advanced onto Tapita, Nimba County. Thousands of civilians, including mainly women, children, and the elderly fled into neighboring Ivory Coast as a result of the MODEL advances.
As the fighting between the two rebel forces and government militias uncontrollably escalated, leaving the rebels in control of more than two-thirds of the entire country, in May of the reporting period, LURD attacked the Jahtondo Displaced Camp in Brewerville, some 15 kilometers outside Monrovia.
In the aftermaths of the attack, many of the internally displaced persons fled in different directions, some into Monrovia, while their belongings, including food items, were looted by the fighting forces. According to investigation conducted by the JPC, the two rival groups - government and LURD Forces - forcefully conscripted dozens of young children into their fighting forces during the Jahtondo attack. The attackers also took some of the IDPs into their control areas.
On June 6, 2003, forces of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, LURD, advanced on Monrovia from the Po River Bridge, fifteen miles west of the capital, in furtherance of its quest to remove President Charles Taylor from power by force of arm.
The attack came barely two days following the commencement of peace talks on the Liberian Conflict on June 4 in Akosombo among the warring parties and other stakeholders. The rebels took over the entire Bushrod Island with the Mesurado River, which divides the city, and the island as the buffer. Three days later the rebels pulled back to the Po River, although Defense Ministry Authorities claimed to have forced them out of the city outskirt.
On June 23 LURD launched a second attack on the city, reclaiming from government forces all of the areas it previously occupied during the first attack. Like the first attack, the second attack lasted for three days when the US States Department called on the rebels to pull back to their original position. Defense Ministry Authorities again claimed they'd beaten back the dissidents.
These two attacks on the city left in their wake massive looting of businesses and private homes. Most UN Agencies and other international NGOs in the country suspended their operations and their expatriate staff members fled into neighboring countries, including Sierra Leone and la Cote d'Ivoire. The United States Embassy also evacuated its nationals, including non-essential embassy staff from Liberia.
On July 19, 2003, the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) launched an attack on Monrovia for the third time in a little over one months in furtherance of its military campaign to unseat the Taylor's Government. The attack witnessed the mortar shelling of Monrovia resulting to the deaths of more than a thousand civilians in both residential areas and displaced centers in the heart of Monrovia and the massive looting and destruction of property. The diplomatic enclave of Mamba Point, usually considered and used as safe haven for many Liberians and foreigners alike, was not spared the mortar shells this time around, as several of these shells landed in the Greystone Compound and killed scores of civilians sheltering there. The US Embassy was also hit by the mortar shelling.
As the fighting progressed, fighters of the three warring parties GOL, LURD, and MODEL embarked on a systematic abuse of the rights of civilians under their respective control areas, including rapes, sodomy, mayhem, looting, commandeering of private vehicles, forced recruitment of children into their fighting forces, etc.
On September 9, less than a month following the signing of the Comprehensive Accra Peace Agreement, LURD Forces attacked Government Militias in Kakata, the administrative seat of Margibi County. Reports from the area said the fighting started when the militias' refused to turn over Kakata and surrounding areas to the ECOMIL Troops deployed in the county. Calm was immediately restored following the intervention of the Guinea Bissau Troops of ECOMIL. LURD Forces pulled back to Bong Mines while the militias retreated to Central Liberia. ECOMIL then gained control of the city.
In the aftermaths of the Kakata fighting, thousand of civilians fled the area for fear of their lives.
On October 1 fighters of LURD and those of the former Government of Liberia (GOL) exchanged gunfire at the Red light in Paynesville on the outskirt of Monrovia. The shoot-out between the belligerent forces started while LURD's Chairman Sekou Damante Conneh was enroute to the residence of President Moses Blah for a pre-arranged confidence-building visit.
Unknown to the UNMIL Peacekeepers, who were providing security escort for Mr. Conneh on the visit, some eight vehicles of armed LURD fighters stealthily joined the convoy. It was while these fighters were brandishing their weapons and volleying sarcastic insinuations and invectives at exiled former President Taylor and the former GOL Militias that the confusion started.
Three persons were killed in the aftermath of the shoot-out while business houses were massively vandalized and looted.
Commenting on the incident later, an official of UNMIL, Mayor Oguusanya, blamed LURD for what he termed "A betrayal of the UNMIL Peacekeepers."
As a result of the shoot-out between the two fighting forces, on October 3 UNMIL convened its first meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) and decided to make gun-free within 72 hours Bushrod Island which is under the control of LURD and Central Monrovia and Paynesville which are under the control of the former GOL Militias. The meeting which brought together representatives from all the warring parties and ECOWAS also instructed the warring parties leaders to exercise control over their fighters in ensuring strict compliance with the terms and conditions of the cease-fire agreement reached among them in Ghana. The Warring Parties also agreed to allow free and unhindered access by humanitarian agencies and UNMIL into their control areas.
Despite the Warring Parties' repeated assurances of their commitment to the cease-fire agreement, serious fighting continued unabated in most parts of the country. No sooner had they reaffirmed their commitment to the cease-fire agreement during the October 3 JMC Meeting when militiamen loyal to exiled former president Charles Taylor and rebels of LURD reportedly clashed around the northern town of Kpain in Nimba County. The fighting was said to have started when the former GOL Militias under the command of one General Tamba attacked positions of LURD in an attempt to retrieve a vehicle.
As a result of the fighting, thousands of residents and internally displaced persons fled into neighboring towns, villages and the bushes.
The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), in the wake of the persistent violations of the cease-fire agreement by all of the warring parties, accused the belligerent forces of violating the comprehensive Accra Peace Agreement. Addressing a news conference at the JPC's head office in Monrovia, the Commission's National Director, Counselor Frances Johnson-Morris accused the armed groups of systematic brutality, mayhem and fatality against the peaceful and defenseless citizens of Bassa and Nimba Counties in particular, and those in other parts of the country in general. She noted that the fighters were also raping, sodomizing and torturing the civilians.
During the period under review, the Chairman of the rebel group MODEL, Thomas Nimely Yaya, now Liberia's Foreign Minister said that his rebel group would not disarm until the International Community met several key demands. These demands, he said, include scholarships and vocational training for his fighters. He maintained that anything short of their demands, his rebel group would not disarm.
LURD Chairman Sekou Damante Conneh, during the reporting period, threatened to withdraw from the peace process. He called for a revisitation of the entire Accra peace accord. The LURD Chairman contended that his group was being "undermined" in taking up its positions allotted to it in the power-sharing government.
On October 27 the high command of LURD turned back a team of relief workers enroute to territory under its control, including Tubmanburg, Bomi Country, the headquarters of the force.
Briefing reporters on the incident a day later, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to Liberia said the relief team was on its way in the LURD controlled area to distribute school and educational supplies to students in support of government's back to school program.
On November 20 UNMIL seized an unspecified, but huge quantity of arms and ammunition from some fighters of LURD along the Monrovia-Bomi Highway while they were attempting to infiltrate the weapons into Monrovia.
On November 30 UNMIL announced that it would no longer tolerate the blatant violations of the cease-fire agreement by the belligerent forces. UNMIL then requested the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) to recommend appropriate measures to be taken against any party found violating the cease-fire agreement.
The UN Mission cautioned the warring parties that it was properly documenting all the violations of the cease-fire and that those commanders responsible for these violations of the International Humanitarian Law would eventually be answerable for their crime against humanity.
On December 2 the symbolic destruction of weapons in Liberia took place at Free Zone, the headquarters of UNMIL on Bushrod Island.
UN Secretary General Special Representative to Liberia, Jacques Paul Klein, US Ambassador John W. Blaney, and members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited near Monrovia participated in the exercise.
On December 7 UNMIL launched the DDRR program at the Camp Scheiflin Barracks in Margibi County. Assuming that the turnout at the cantonment site would have been far less, the Peacekeepers made little preparations for accommodation of the GOL Militias who later turned out overwhelmingly. In partial fulfillment of the incentives promised by UNMIL under the DDRR Program, the Peacekeepers offered US$75.00 to each fighter immediately upon handing in his/her weapon.
Speaking at the launch of the DDRR Program, UN Secretary General Special Representative to Liberia Jacques Paul Klein accused the Rebels LURD of failing to cooperate with the program. Quoting former US President John F. Kennedy, the UN Envoy said, "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind". He lauded the efforts of the former GOL and its militias for beginning the disarmament process. He assured that upon disarmament, the former fighters would receive health care, counseling, vocational training, schooling, apprenticeship and "a modest stipend" to help them on their way to resettlement and reintegration into civil society.
On December 9 the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), Charles Gyude Bryant announced the imposition of a nighttime curfew in Monrovia and its surrounding areas. Government took the decision following three days of violent protest by militias of the former Government of Liberia (GOL) in demand for "incentives" from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) as a precondition for handing in their weapons to the Peacekeepers under the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) program. At least eight militias with some civilians were killed in the aftermath of the protest, which was characterized by shootings, looting, killing and harassment. The protesters shot one of the victims (civilian) Mrs. Marion Jackson in her stomach eight times and made away with her vehicle. The incident took place in Juahzon along the Monrovia-Schieflin Highway. UNMIL Soldiers later arrested five of those reportedly involved in the killing of the 65-year-old woman.
On December 13 UNMIL announced the suspension of the disarmament process and payment of the US$75.00 allowance to the fighters effective December 17 to be resumed on January 20, 2004. UNMIL said the decision was intended to allow the Peacekeepers create the necessary conditions, including the upgrading of living standards for the disarmed combatants at the various cantonment sites throughout the country. UNMIL said when the disarmament process resumes in January, it would begin disarming fighters of both LURD and MODEL.
The Liberia National Police Force, LNPF, on December 15 began nighttime patrol in Monrovia and its environs in response to increased armed robberies and other forms of security harassment and intimidation against the civilian populace. The deployment of the Police followed training by UNMIL of some Liberian Police Officers at the headquarters of the LNPF to help the Peacekeepers combat crimes in the city and surrounding areas.
On December 24 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) went on the rampage in demand of their two-month salary arrears the NTGL owes them. The disgruntled soldiers stormed the Defense Ministry in Monrovia and demanded the payment of their salary arrears to enable them sustain their families during the Christmas and New Year seasons. They also demanded the unconditional resignation of Defense Minister Daniel Chea for failing to seek their interest. As a result of the commotion, vehicles heading in the direction of Benson Street where the Defense Ministry is located were detoured. The timely intervention of UNMIL in an attempt to put the situation under control proved fruitless, as the soldiers insisted on their demand. NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant quelled the upheaval when he ordered the Finance Ministry to begin the disbursement of the Soldiers' salary the next day.
However, our investigation later revealed that authorities of the Defense Ministry, in paying the Soldiers wages in compliance with Chairman Bryant's orders, deducted LD$200 and LD$300, respectively, from their salaries reportedly for the operation of the Defense Ministry. This action sparked off another round of agitation with the aggrieved soldiers threatening to institute violent actions against their superior officers if they fail to return the amount deducted from their salaries. The soldiers contended that the deduction amounted to the leveling of taxes on their meager salaries, a right exclusively reserved for the Legislature.
On December 27 UNMIL deployed its first batch of Pakistani peacekeeping Troops in Klay, Bomi County. Two days earlier, LURD Commanders at the Po River Bridge had aborted the deployment of the UNMIL Troops in their controlled area. Both civilians and LURD fighters in Klay warmly received the Peacekeepers.
On December 31 UNMIL deployed its Bangladeshi Contingent into Gbarnga, Bong County in Central Liberia and the Southern Seaport City of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County. The Peacekeepers received rapturous welcome from the residents of the two counties.
The National Human Rights Center of Liberia, a consortium of 19 local human rights organizations, said the reported shooting of an opposition politician in Felela, Bong County, by a militiaman, is a threat to a smooth electoral process and therefore warranted immediate redress by government. According to the center, on January 18, 2003, a militiaman identified as Roland Thompson reportedly shot at the opposition New DEAL Movement's member, Dickson Barrie. The militiaman reportedly did the shooting following his vain attempt to disrupt a peaceful gathering organized by the New DEAL. The National Human Rights center said in the wake of the pending 2003 general and presidential elections, the government was obliged to demonstrate its commitment to creating an enabling environment for a political competition void of harassment, intimidation and other undemocratic practices.
The National Director of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Counselor Frances Johnson Morris was elected Chairperson of the National Human Rights Center's Board of Directors. The Center is a consortium of some 19 local human rights organizations. She replaced Cllr. Elizabeth Boyenneh of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia. The election, characterized by transparency and cordiality, also carried Attorney-At-Law Dempster Brown of the Center for the Protection of Human Rights (CPHR), as Co-chairman and Focus' Anthony Boakai as Treasurer.
Information Minister Reginald Goodridge accused the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) and other human rights organizations in the country of being bias and sympathetic towards the LURD rebel movement. He further said the JPC and the other human rights groups have been strangely silent on what he referred to as the "carnage" created by the rebels when they attacked Monrovia which resulted into deaths, massive looting of properties and displacement.
However, in its reaction to the Minister's accusation, the JPC said it has time and again condemned the fighting in the country and called on the fighting forces to settle their differences through peaceful means, since, in fact, victory on the battlefield was unattainable.
The JPC then cautioned Minister Goodridge, as an integral part of the current efforts at putting in place a transitional government to end the prolonged suffering of the Liberian people, to do the Liberian nation and people justice by concerning himself with the peace process and stop aligning individuals and institutions with the rebels.
On June 18, 2003, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) received a written complaint from the Zoe Geh Development Association of Nimba County alleging that three of its members mysteriously disappeared following President Taylor disclosure on June 5 of a plot to overthrow his government. The association said on June 5 at about 12:30 a.m., the victims, Colonel John Yormie, Deputy Minister for Operations, Ministry of National Security, Isaac Vaye, Deputy Minister for Technical Services, Ministry of Public Works, and Peterson Mabiah of the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), were picked up and taken away in a Nissan Patrol Jeep by one General Banana who claimed to have acted upon the orders of Colonel Benjamin Yeaten, Director of the Special Security Service (SSS).
The JPC, upon receipt of the complaint, wrote Colonel Yeaten requesting him to take the men to court to have them formally charged in keeping with law, if they had committed any crime leading to their reported arrest. Up to the reporting period, Colonel Yeaten has neither acknowledged receipt of nor replied the Commission's letter.
As a last option, the JPC, in the wake of Colonel Yeaten;s failure to produce the living bodies of the three men in court within the constitutional period of 48 hours, was in the process of petitioning the court to file a writ of habeas corpus against the Liberian Government when the second attack on Monrovia by forces of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy began.
President Taylor, later in a nation-wide radio broadcast, announced that two of the arrested men, John Yormie and Isaac Vaye were dead. The President did not, however, say how they were killed. He said in the event of a coup plot "people can get hurt." The President then instructed Vice President Moses Blah to officially inform the families of the victims about the death of the two men.
Despite repeated requests from members of the families, the government refused to turn over the bodies of the dead men or locate their burial sites.
During the period under review, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) on July 15, 2003 issued a press statement in which it reminded the warring parties and other stakeholders at the ongoing Accra Peace Talks on Liberia that the future survival of their nation and its people lay in their hands, and that "posterity would adjudge them guilty if they fail to reach a compromise in ending the current suffering of the Liberian people."
The JPC also reminded the parties that while the international community was making frantic efforts in helping to restore durable peace to Liberia, the delegates were clearly demonstrating by their action that let alone, Liberians are incapable of managing their own affairs as they continue to uncompromisingly wrangle over the leadership of the Transitional Government.
In the view of the JPC, the statement continued, such attitude on the part of individuals who claim to be liberators and advocates of democracy and social justice, to say the least, was deceptive and sets the tone for further prolongation of the suffering of the Liberian people.
The JPC then urged the parties to guide against the mistakes of the past, as they approach the crucial task of selecting someone to head the Transitional Government. "Such person, the Commission strongly cautioned, must be above reproach, experienced in the art of governance, possess good leadership ability, be patriotic and nationalistic".
The JPC urged the warring parties, including the Government of Liberia (GOL), LURD and MODEL to let sanity prevail by placing the survival of the Liberian nation and people over and above their self-seeking interest.
The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), during the period under review proposed the establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia in order to redress the numerous human rights violations during the country's fourteen-year civil war.
JPC National Director, Cllr. Frances Johnson Morris said the Commission believed that the war crimes court was absolutely necessary as it would suit the situation obtaining in the country.
The JPC Boss made the proposal when she addressed a news conference in the wake of reports of gross human rights abuses committed against peaceful citizens in Grand Bassa County by fighters of the Rebels Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL).
Giving a comprehensive account of the level of atrocities committed by MODEL's fighters in Grand Bassa County, based on investigation conducted by the JPC, Counselor Morris narrated that on November 9 some MODEL fighters allegedly raped a 12 year-old girl and a 74 year-old woman in district number four. Similar incident occurred on November 11, when a MODEL soldier raped a girl on the Bassa High School campus.
On November 13, she said the JPC's investigation further revealed that while the citizens of that county were holding a mass meeting at the city hall in Buchanan City, some fighters of MODEL, upon the orders of MODEL's General Commander for the County, General Kai Farley, paraded stark-naked before the gathering five men accused of property theft. The accused men were also received death threats for allegedly stealing pieces of metal zinc from the compound of LIMINCO, a local mining company.
The JPC boss maintained that these violations on the part of the warring factions undeniably constituted wanton disregard and flagrant breach of the comprehensive Accra Peace Accord to which they are signatories.
The Deputy Head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, Mr. Abou Moussa disclosed during the reporting period that fighters of the two rebel factions, LURD and MODEL, reportedly raped more than 600 women. The UN official said Aid workers assigned at the various displaced camps in Bong and Nimba counties alone revealed the figure. Mr. Moussa said such level of human rights abuses carried out by the rebels have claimed the attention of the UN and promised that perpetrators of these heinous criminal acts against peaceful citizens would be made to account for their actions.
On December 13 an officer of the Special Security Service (SSS) and a former aide to exiled President Charles Taylor murdered his wife and subsequently committed suicide. William Korvah accused Mrs. Patricia Doe-Korvah, 28, of having an extramarital affair with a man allegedly at her work place. They were married for six years and had three children. Up to the time of her death, Patricia, a graduate of the University of Liberia, worked with the International Bank of Liberia as Disbursement Officer and Assistant Treasurer. She was also the Choir Director of the Christ the King Catholic Church in Gaye Town, Sinkor, Old Road. The husband, Bill, was a tenth grade dropout.
The Liberian government offered the use of its territory to what it called the international efforts to bring the Ivorian Crisis to an end. The President made the statement on January 28, in an interview with Radio France International in Paris. President Charles Taylor said the French, ECOWAS and UN troops among others, in the search for peace in that neighboring country could use Liberia's territory.
Justice Minister Lavala Koboi Johnson disclosed that Liberians residing in the Ivory Coast were being hunted and killed by Ivorian security forces and other mob groups. Addressing a news conference on January 30, Minister Johnson lamented the fact that Liberians were being murdered in cold blood, simply because they are Liberians. He said the government of Liberia will not sit back and see its citizens within Ivory Coast humiliated or killed, while the country's meager resources are being made available to receive, accommodate and protect Ivorian citizens who have fled into Liberia. When asked about the number of Liberians believed to have been killed by both Ivorian security forces and mob groups, Minister Johnson said he could not divulge such now as any attempt to do so could result to the killing of more Liberians in that neighboring country.
Due to the apparent lack of concern and care for the multitude of Ivorian refugees streaming in daily to the Liberian border town of Butuo and its surrounding villages of Nimba County, returnees and refugees were reportedly dying by the day. Undoubtedly, the refugees are severely subjected to constant harassment and intimidation reportedly from the locals and the security around the border areas. The appalling condition of the refugees has caused several of them to have allegedly die. In the Ninkwe Clan, near Behwaly Chiefdom, an estimated number of 30 returnees and refugees have reportedly died just within a week, a source close to the office of the Liberian Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) disclosed. The most pitiful of the reported deaths was that of a refugee woman who hailed from Kpantoupleau in the Ivory Coast "upon her arrival in Butuo she died instantly during child birth" a spokesperson of the local Community Humanitarian Assistance Program (CHAP), Harry Miller told the JPC.
The Guinean local authority near the Ganta Collectorate in Nimba County closed its country's border with Liberia. Following the closure of the border, Guinean Army moved in the area with a reinforcement of soldiers and heavy artillery. Unlike the previous closure of the border with Liberia, this time around it seems to be so serious that no one living there is allowed near the St. John River Bridge that forms the boundary between the two countries. Liberian border security officers assigned at the Ganta Customs Post ventured to go across the bridge to seek clarification from the Guinea army stationed there but were flatly denied entry.
During the reporting period the Liberian Government informed the United Nations Security Council of the continued destabilization of its territory by the Government of Guinea through the support and supply of military hardware to rebels of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). The government wanted the UN Security Council to take cognizant of Article 35(1) of the Charter of the United Nations and acknowledge the use of armed violence to overthrow the democratically elected government of Liberia. The Foreign Ministry on February 17, in a letter addressed to the President of the Security Council from the President of Liberia, informed that body that the government of Guinea facilitated the establishment of LURD by permitting the recruitment, training and arming of Liberian refugees living in refugee camps in the territory of Guinea. The Liberian government further said LURD combatants have been permitted to freely move in and out of Guinea territory carrying arms, ammunition and other supplies into Liberia, and to retreat into Guinea for refuge and medical care.
During the reporting period, the International Crisis Group on Liberia (ICGL) revealed the complex involvement of many West African leaders in the worsening security condition in the West African Sub Region. The ICGL identified President Charles Taylor of Liberia as the key to the regional instability.
United States Ambassador to Liberia, John Blaney underscored the need for an urgent request to be made to have a United Nations team in the country for the 2003 general and presidential elections in the country. He said his government is concerned that the preparation leading to the holding of the elections are inadequate, stressing that the necessary conditions for the holding of the process do not yet exist to permit a free and fair elections. Amb. Blaney cited as an example, a repeated request by his government and other friendly nations encouraging the Liberian government to seek assistance from the United Nations Electoral Assistance Unit for the preparations of the elections well beyond requests for security related assistance.
A group of Liberians on Friday January 10 staged a demonstration against U.S. policies toward Liberia. The group acknowledged that the United States has immense power and unassuming capabilities to end their country's newest civil bloodbath. The group's spokesman and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Bomi County Senator Mohammed Dukuly, indicated that America has the will, means and resources to help and the war end the catastrophic humanitarian situation that has been created by the war. The demonstrators were mainly citizens of Bomi County.
The Liberian leader, President Charles Taylor and United States Ambassador to Liberia, John Blaney held a close door meeting at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia on Wednesday, 15th January. The meeting between the two was held in the wake of a statement by President Taylor to lead another peaceful march against the United States government's policies in two weeks. The talks had also come five days after citizens of Bomi County held a march from the Antoinette Tubman Stadium to the Executive Mansion. According to the Presidential Press Secretary, Mr. Sylvester Vaanii Paasewe, during the talks, President Taylor expressed grave concern over specific policies of the US Government that adversely affect Liberia, which include the sanction regime, among others.
The United States government, during the reporting period, provided US$3.6m to assist with refugees' emergencies in Liberia. According to the U.S. Embassy, the Department of State's Office of Population, Refugees and Migration provided the funds in response to an appeal by the UN High Commission. The Embassy explained that US$2.1m would address the plight of refugees fleeing the violence in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire. US$1.5m will be used to respond to the needs of Ivorian and Liberian refugees compelled to come to Liberia. The contribution was United States Government's commitment to help meet the humanitarian needs of the Liberian people. In early February, the United States also contributed US $69 million to the United Nations Refugee Agency to support refugees program worldwide.
The United Nations Security Council re-established a new panel of experts to monitor compliance with international sanctions imposed on Liberia. The new panel of experts, which comprised five persons, was established after Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1458. The new panel of experts was asked to begin work no later then February 10. According to a UN press release issued on January 30, 2003, the Panel had a three-month duration for its work. The UN Security Council requested Secretary General Kofi Annan to appoint a board for the new panel.
The United States Embassy near Monrovia suspended all visa services as of January 7, 2003. The Embassy termed its decision at the time as a security precaution, according to a dispatch.
During the period under review, the Government of Liberia advised all diplomatic missions accredited to Liberia to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Liberia in keeping with responsibility of all state signatories to the Vienna Convention of 1961. A Foreign Ministry release said, the Government of Liberia was reminding all diplomatic missions that privileges and immunities granted under the Vienna Convention impose a reciprocal responsibility on diplomatic missions not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Host State. The government will not accept the breach of this responsibility by any diplomatic mission in Monrovia. Failure on the part of any diplomatic mission to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Liberia would leave the government of Liberia with no alternative but to impose measures upon the diplomatic corps to ensure that such interference is curtailed.
The United States Embassy on February 18, after 40 days of closure re-opened its Consular Section for normal visa operations. The Embassy said it took note of the Government of Liberia's press statement issued on February 6, reiterating its intention to protect all foreign nationals including United States citizens the Embassy had closed its Consular services following plans by the government to allow a march against US policies towards Liberia.
President Charles Taylor during the period under review, threatened to expel a diplomat (unnamed) from the country. The Liberian leader said he would expel the diplomat if he (the diplomat) continues to make statements that would bring disgrace to the dignity of the judiciary. He emphasized that his government would not allow any individual or head of a diplomatic mission to degrade the judiciary. President Taylor issued the threats on Thursday, March 20, when he inducted eminent person, Mary Brownell and former Senator Joseph Chelly as members of the Election Commission (ECOM). He however did not name the diplomat.
In a reciprocal measure to the Government of Liberia's imposition of a 30-mile limit on the movements of diplomats in Liberia, including US diplomats, Ambassador John Blaney, III, on March 20 disclosed that the US Government had imposed similar restrictions on members of the Liberian diplomatic mission in the United States.
On January 24, the UNDP's Resident Representative, Marc Destanne de Bernis turned over drugs and medical supplies valued at US$ 53,410 to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The drugs and medical supplies were intended for three health facilities in southeastern Liberia Nyaake clinic in River Gee, Sasstown and Barclayville Health Centers. The donation of the drugs and medical supplies was in fulfillment of an emergency grant of US$500,00 promised and later made available by the African Development Bank through the UNDP and supervised by United Nations office for Project Services (UNOPS). The grant agreement was signed in 1999.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided over half a million United States dollars in support of the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Liberia. Speaking on Thursday February 13, at the signing ceremonies at the UNDP offices in Monrovia, resident representative Marc Destanne de Bernis said the project will support the development and implementation of strategies and action plan aimed at fighting and preventing HIV/AIDS, both at national and local levels. The UNDP country representative said the US$ 529,000.00 HIV/AIDS project which constitutes UNDP's contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS would complement other efforts undertaken by the Liberian government, UN Agencies, NGOs and the international community as a whole.
The Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas completed phase 1 of a US$ 100,000 leprosy control center in Boniken District, Maryland County. The Director for rehabilitation and reconstruction at the Catholic Secretariat in the county, Mr. Cornelius Sarplah said that one of the completed units comprises seven bedrooms. He said when the entire complex was completed it would cater to leprosy victims and their families and be equipped with adequate drugs and food.
A clinic to cater to the health needs of residents of Shiefflin Town and nearby areas was dedicated and opened to the public. The King Clinic situated at the Phebe Grey Memorial Orphanage on the Shiefflin Highway in Margibi County is under the auspices of the Church of God in Liberia. The clinic, with trained medical personnel, has the capacity to attend to more than 50 patients per day at very affordable fees. The King Clinic is a humanitarian gesture of Dr. John Gregory and Dr. John Nichols through the King Pharmaceuticals in the United States. It was built following persistent appeals from the Church of God National Overseer Bishop Daniel Ofori Adu.
During the reporting period, reporter Throble Suah of the independent Inquirer Newspaper was flogged by some armed men believed to be officers of the presidential guard, the Anti-Terrorist Unit. He was subsequently hospitalized at the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital where he was been treated. But as his condition began to worsen, he was discharged from there and taken to Accra, Ghana for advance medical examination and treatment. The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) expressed concern about the flogging of reporter Suah and called on the Liberian government to bring those responsible to justice. The government of Liberia promised to investigate the flogging of reporter Suah and bring the culprit to justice, but unfortunately nothing was heard about the investigation or the bringing to trial of those involved in the dastardly act.
The National Human Rights Centers of Liberia during the period under review presented a check of US200.00 to the management of the Inquirer Newspaper to assist with the medication of the paper's Roving Reporter, Trouble Suah. The Center's Coordinator, Mr. Blamo Sieh said the amount was intended to assist with the treatment of the reporter. He expressed regrets over the incident and said that contribution was in response to calls from the paper and PUL calling for assistance.
During the reporting period, the Press Union of Liberia said it was disturbed by comments by President Charles Taylor that it was behaving as a political party. The Union said it believes such statements from the highest office of the land lend credence to the negative perception about the roles of the media. The PUL on January 19 clarified that it has no political interest, and was merely performing its sacred responsibility of seeking the welfare of a victimized member. The Union's clarification came in the wake of a remark by President Taylor that the union was politicizing the flogging of the Inquirer roving reporter Throble Suah by officers of the elite presidential guard the ATU. President Taylor at his regular monthly meeting with the press on Friday January 17, implied that the PUL was blowing the flogging of the journalist out of proportion. The union viewed that statement as unfortunate, and maintains that journalist Suah was severely flogged and that his condition was critical to the extent that he was virtually blind.
The Press Union of Liberia said its attention was drawn to numerous reports of threats against some of its members by people believed to be state security operatives. The union said several of its members had complained of being under surveillance. The PUL, in a release quoted the threatened member on saying that small groups of men dressed in National Police and ATU uniforms repeatedly visited their homes at odd hours and inquired about their whereabouts. Neighbors of the journalists in question quoted these police and ATU officers as making threatening remarks against the media personnel for what they referred to as Anti-government reportage. The PUL however, failed to name the journalists involved.
Officers of the Liberian National Police Special operation Division (SOD) on Saturday February 22 manhandled journalist D. Emmanuel Mondaye of the Inquirer on 4th Street in Sinkor. The police officers, beside manhandling reporter Mondaye, also seized his equipment for what they termed as his "not getting permission to cover the eviction exercise", which was being carried out by them. According to the reporter, he was hit several times with a weapon by the SOD officers in the presence of dozens of affected residents of the eviction exercise, and some Magisterial Police from the Civil Law Court, Temple of Justice.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Counselor Gloria Musu Scott during the reporting period called for the collaborative efforts and support of the various components of the Juvenile System in Liberia. These components according to the Chief Justice, include prosecution, the police, the social workers, county officials, community leaders and the family. Chief Justice Scott said these various components must perform their respective roles properly to make the Juvenile system in Liberia functional and operational. She said based on an agreement between the judiciary and UNICEF in 1997, for the protection of children. UNICEF and the Government of Liberia funded a delegation headed by her to travel to the Republics of South Africa and Namibia, two post conflict societies, on a study tour of the function and operation of the Juvenile Justice System.
The Criminal Court "A" hearing the treason trial involving human rights activist Aloysius Toe denied the state prosecutor's motion for continuance. Presiding Judge Boimah Kontoe, in his ruling February 17 said under the laws and practice of the legal profession, for a party to be granted continuance in a case, that party should prove that it has exercised due diligence in obtaining its witnesses. He ruled that the state lawyers "miserably" failed to convince the court that it exercised due diligence in securing the attendance of its witnesses. Judge Kontoe maintained that had the prosecution's witnesses been subpoenaed and the returns of the sheriff indicated that the witnesses could not be found in the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia the legal basis would have been established. The government had accused Toe of collaborating with LURD to unseat the government. Mr. Toe's trouble started when a coalition of 19 human rights organizations attempted to stage a solidarity march in protest to the prolonged detention of the now released journalist Hassan Bility and several others. The trial of Mr. Toe could not commence due to what judicial official called the lack of funds to keep the jury together during the trial.
United States Ambassador, John William Blaney said the Liberian government should not attempt to search for scapegoat such as the UN limited sanctions in order to explain why major social services including electricity, health and education have not been provided.
During the reporting period, the Swiss Bank ordered the freezing of several bank accounts said to be owned by the Liberian leader Charles Taylor. The accounts were frozen following a request from the United Nations-backed War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone. Although the total amount in these accounts was not revealed, reports had it that the accounts of the Liberian leader, his relatives, some government officials and businesses associates were affected by the action.
During the period under review, the international investigation group, Global Witness, called on the United Nations Security Council to enforce the current timber embargo and reject the proposed "wood for food" program. The Group said the lifting of the embargo could undermine the United Nations' attempt to bring peace and security to the West African region.
But, UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Liberia, Jacques Klein, rejected the Global Witness' call and said the lifting of the embargo on the timber industry was necessary for the generation of needed funds for Liberia's reconstruction program
The UN Security Council in July included Timber on its list of sanctions imposed on the former Taylor-led government.
During the reporting period, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and Coordinator of the United Nations in Liberia, Mr. Jacques Klein, alleged that former President Charles Taylor absconded with a staggering USD 3 million to Nigeria where he is presently living in exile.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia on September 5, 2003, on the Socio-economic, political and military situation in Liberia, the UN envoy said the former President received the amount from an Asian country to be used for the reintegration into the society of all the belligerent forces to the Liberian Conflict. He did not however name the Asian Country. He then called on the belligerent forces to go after former President Taylor to get their money from him.
The UN envoy declared that the UN would pursue the former Liberian Leader in an attempt to retrieve the money in question. But, he fell short of saying what action the world body would pursue in getting back the money.
In reacting to Mr. Klein's allegation, the government of Liberia challenged the UN envoy to provide evidence about the three million dollars in question, including the disclosure of the name of the Asian country that reportedly gave the money.
The government said such evidence would help to set the record straight and lay the anxiety of the combatants to rest.
The UN Secretary General Special Representative, during the period under review, acknowledged steps taken by the European Union towards the restoration of safe drinking water and electricity to Monrovia. Mr. Jacque Klein also acknowledged the role of ECOMIL to re-enforce the recently signed Accra Peace Agreement on Liberia.
The UN official noted that in spite of the departure of former President Taylor from the country, belligerent forces are still killing, rapping, robbing, terrorizing and looting. He said such acts are not only in violation of the peace accord, but also run contrary to humanitarian law. He said if identified, those involved can be held accountable in the context of international justice.
On September 8 the European Commission (EC) and the Liberian government reached an agreement wherein the former would purchase fuel at a "special rate" in the country to facilitate the rehabilitation of electricity and water supplies to Monrovia and its environs.
The decision was reached when a special delegation of the EC headed by the European Commission's Charge d' Affaires to Liberia, Godfred Ross, met with the Liberian leader President Moses Blah at the Executive Mansion.
Under the arrangement, the EC would be required to pay US$ 0.75 per gallon of fuel oil. With this new arrangement, Mr. Ross assured that electricity would soon be restored to Monrovia.
During the reporting period, the National Legislature warned against the skyrocketing of the price of a bag of rice imported into the country following the recent military hostilities in Monrovia.
Following the third Monrovia fighting, the price of a 100-pound bag of rice previously sold on the Liberian market for US 20.00 or LD 1,000.00 was being sold between USD 23.00 and USD 30.00, a situation the ordinary Liberian cannot cope with.
In furtherance of its warning against the price increase of the country's staple food, the National Legislature cited to the Capitol the managements of the two leading importers of rice in Liberia - K & K and the Haddad Group of Companies - to give reasons for hiking the price of the commodity.
Addressing the Lawmakers, the two business executives attributed the price increase to the Government of Liberia through the Commerce Ministry. They maintained that they had no authority whatsoever, to arbitrarily increase the prices of commodities imported into Liberia.
Finance Minister Lusinee Kamara during the reporting period plans by the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) to resume a monthly Transfer of US $50,000.00 to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in servicing Liberia's debt arrears with that international financial lending institution. The NTGL made the commitment during the visit to Liberia of a high-power IMF Delegation.
In early November the NTGL began the disbursement of civil servants' salary checks for the months of October to December 2003. Transitional Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant told the nation that the salary checks disbursement was in keeping with the government's express commitment to improving the living conditions of its workforce.
The salaries of civil servants under the regime of exiled President Charles Taylor were not paid for as long as two years or more.
On December 12 a visiting US Congressman, Donald Payne, said investment in Liberia would depend largely on improvement in the country's current security situation. He made the statement when he spoke to reporters at the Executive Mansion following a closed door meeting with NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant.
"You are still in the process of attempting to disarm. Investors are reluctant to invest in Liberia unless they know that their investment is safe and until the streets are safe, the counties are safe. Otherwise, they will take a wait and see attitude", Congressman Payne said. He urged warring parties to disarm their fighters and give peace a chance. He pledged the US Government's support to UNMIL in the DDRR program, assuring that the US would continue to be involved in the process.