Liberian Rights Advocate Arrested

The Perspective

September 17, 2001

A Liberian human rights advocate, Mr. Thompson Ade-bayo, Executive Director of the Liberia Human Rights Watch (LHRW), a human rights advocacy group, turned himself in to the Liberian Police authorities, and was immediately put under arrest. Mr. Ade-bayo was accompanied by the Acting National Director of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Counselor Francis Johnson-Morris, who delivered him to the authorities.

Prior to his arrest, twelve human rights organizations in Monrovia stated in a press statement that police had arrested the wife and 3-year old daughter of Mr. Ade-bayo. Authorities of the Liberian National Police have, however, denied that any such arrest was carried out.

Just a few days ago, Mr. Ade-bayo's rights group issued a statement critical of the notorious and infamous Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU). The rights group said the ATU was "unconstitutional" and called for the dissolution of the group since it belonged to none of the law enforcement agencies of the country and was only answerable to the President of Liberia. ATU has been used to silence critics of the government.

The ATU has been involved in numerous acts of terror against the Liberian people, and is reported to be responsible for numerous killings, torture and rape of innocent citizens in Lofa County, where there is the long-running battle between dissident forces of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and the government forces, according to Amnesty International. The human rights group also blamed the war in Lofa on Mr. Taylor's failure to allow ECOMOG to restructure the Liberian security apparatus to give it a "geographically balanced look".

Meanwhile, the Justice and Peace Commission and a number of other human rights organizations, have called upon the Liberian Justice Ministry to adhere to the due process of law in its treatment of Mr. Ade-bayo.

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