The Human Rights Tragedy under Taylor's Rule
By James Torh
November 10, 2000

By many accounts, there has been no marked improvement in the area of human rights since Mr. Taylor assumed power a little over three years ago. Despite many promises to the citizenry that he would govern respecting the rights of each and every citizen, Taylor's record on human rights remain dismal, and leaves much to be desired.

In an atmosphere of extreme terror that has been characterized by sinking hopes and mounting fears, the human rights situation in Liberia is worse than slavery. The NPP-led government has made human development secondary to national security priorities. While the human development sector such as agriculture, education, health and other productive sectors have deteriorated to their lowest levels since the existence of the state, the government of Liberia has practically invested an elephantine proportion of it resources in the development of a national security infrastructures.

The existence of a motley collection of security agencies - Special Safety Unit, Anti Terrorist Unit, National Board of Investigation, Demus Forces, Special Operation Division, Presidential Guards, the Special Investigative unit of the National Security Agency, the stand-by unit, the small boy unit and many more are strategically deployed, some in street corners wielding dangerous weapons that they are not shy of using on the innocent and peaceful citizens. This is Taylor's method of intimidating people to cling to power.

In every civilized society, the security agencies are duty-bound to protect the lives and welfare of the people, they have pledged to uphold the dignity of every person in the society. On the contrary, the Liberia security agencies under the supervision of President Taylor are the ones who violate fundamental human rights - who kill, who torture, who participate in involuntary disappearance, who arbitrarily arrest and detained persons awaiting order from the president who presides over summary execution. There hardly passes a day without media houses reporting violence about bloody deeds perpetrated by Taylor's security. Many human rights violators, torturers and men who carry on brutal, cruel and senseless murders have in fact been promoted to higher positions. They continue to live freely, secure in the knowledge that the Chief Executive supports their acts-also allow them continue violating human rights.

The judiciary in Liberia has become weak and ineffective to a point that it no longer functions as the bastion of human rights; rather it has all too often yielded to the interest of Taylor and his followers, a situation that contributed to a permanent state of repression and the culture of impunity. Even the Legislature is now complaining that President Taylor usurps its functions.

As the unbelievable terror is resounding through out the land, the Liberian people are beginning to realize that Taylor and his band of sycophants are the real enemies of the state. Indeed, President Charles Taylor and his loyalists are making Liberia their personal estate of official criminal gangs whose avowed aim is to plunder the wealth. Liberia once known for its enormous resources and a land of rescue is now suffering from chronic intermittent growth, and perpetual deflation. This is the continued culture of leadership and governance in present day Liberia.

[Editor's Note:The author is a human rights activist who was arrested for criticizing President Charles Taylor's Government, and was charged with treason. He subsequently escaped from the country and now lives in exile.]