UN Slaps Taylor with Renewed Sanctions Regime
Posted May 7, 2002
The sanctions regime imposed on Liberia on May 7, 2001 by the UN Security Council has been extended for another year. Last year, Taylor and company launched a misinformation and propaganda campaign against the UN sanctions, implying that the sanctions regime was hurting "ordinary Liberians" more than its intended target. However, yesterday (May 6, 2002), the UN Security Council went ahead to extend the sanctions:
"The Security Council today extended sanctions on the Government of Liberia for a further 12 months -- including an arms embargo, travel ban for officials, and a prohibition on the import of its rough diamonds -- deciding that it had not fully complied with Council demands that it halt its support for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other armed rebel groups in the region.
"Unanimously adopting resolution 1408 (2002) and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided that the measures imposed by paragraphs 5 to 7 of resolution 1343 (2001) shall be extended from 7 May, adding that they will be immediately terminated if the Council decides that the Government has complied with the resolution. The Council noted that the Government had complied with one demand of the resolution, concerning the registration and ownership of each aircraft registered in Liberia."
The "end" of the war in Sierra Leone has provided a false hope for the regime in Monrovia since the sanctions were imposed on Liberia not because of the atrocities that Mr. Taylor has committed in Liberia, but those committed by his RUF rebels. The UN Panel of Experts was not convinced that Mr. Taylor has disengaged from the RUF. The Panel stated in its recent report:
"Late in October and in November 2001 in Sierra Leone there was a recurrence of reports, albeit of questionable accuracy, that 'Mosquito' was recruiting RUF to be mercenaries for Liberia. The Civil Defence Force reported late in December 2001 that Sam Bockarie was in the southern Liberian border town of Congo with a large number of men. The Government of Sierra Leone responded with a rapid deployment of forces along the border and authorized constant helicopter patrols, but could find no trace of him or his men. In January 2002 Bockarie was once more rumoured to be in Foya leading the fight against LURD and in February 2002 reported to be operating in Lofa County just across from Dia Chiefdom in Sierra Leone, rallying RUF troops to take up the fight.
"In the first week of April 2002, units of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces in Buedu and Zimmi reported rumours that Bockarie was once more preparing men for a three-day cross-border campaign to destabilize the upcoming elections. They requested an impressive list of extra resources to deal with the perceived threat. The Panel visited Bockarie's former stronghold in Buedu and asked local chiefs if they had received news of his whereabouts. They said they had not heard about him since early 2001 although some members of his family had recently returned home from a refugee camp in Guinea.
"The Panel agrees that hard facts are few. It was able to confirm from the Sierra Leone Embassy in Monrovia and the Liberian National Security Advisor that Sam Bockarie's wife and mother still live in Monrovia in a house in the Twelve Houses area of Paynesville."
Even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan complained about the manner in which the Liberian government handled the Bockarie factor: "I share the dismay expressed by the ECOWAS Mission regarding the untidy manner in which the government handled the expulsion of RUF members, in particular Sam Bockarie. Unverified information reaching the Secretariat indicate that Bockarie is still living in Liberia and that the Government of Liberia has not severed it relations with RUF in Sierra Leone..."
The Taylor regime has used the war in Lofa to arouse international sympathy in order to lift the arms embargo imposed on Liberia by the United Nations. The government is said to have staged several battles and raids in which government forces killed innocent civilians and looted properties. The most recent one was the Kakata incident, where two Lebanese businessmen and a child were killed. The Taylor regime claimed that LURD dissidents had invaded Kakata and asked students at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) to vacate the campus. The Liberian government blamed LURD for the atrocities. But it is said that the army vehicle that was purportedly used by LURD (came from the direction of Monrovia) was the same vehicle that was used to drive the alleged LURD forces out of Kakata.
According to sources, Government forces went on a looting spree after the alleged attack; they looted properties of Lebanese businesses, which were later sold along the Kakata-Monrovia Highway, while some were sold in Congo Town at the unfinished Defense Ministry building, few yards from Mr. Taylor's residence.
Conveniently for the government, the UN Panel of Experts was in Monrovia to monitor Mr. Taylor compliance with the UN sanctions. About three hours after the alleged Kakata fiasco, the government took the UN delegation to Kakata to see evidence of the Lofa war and its attendant hardship on the Liberian people. But the evidence (violation of the UN arms embargo) that the government did not intend to show became visible to the UN Panel of Experts. For example, the Panel observed, "During its visit to Kakata, some 40 km north of Monrovia, the Panel witnessed the Government forces carrying guns and belts with brand new ammunition around their shoulders."
Furthermore, the arrest, detention and tortured of human rights advocate Tiawan Gongloe, the closure of The Analyst newspaper, and the state of emergency, which empowered the Taylor government to harass, ban public gatherings, etc., did not help the government in its plea for the UN to lift the sanctions. The UN took note of the Rabat Summit but that was not enough for lifting the sanctions.