US Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, has blamed the government’s failure to provide the Liberia National Police with basic operational funds as one of the major factors that breeds corruption among officers.
The US Ambassador to Liberia noted that while the country's police force is not only severely understaffed and underfunded, the lack of operational funds opens floodgates for corruption as officers have to collect money from complainants to execute arrests, among other things.
Amb. McCarthy noted that although police corruption well exists, police officers “ask families of victims and survivors of rape for gas money not because they wish to enrich themselves, but because their government fails to provide the basic operational funding needed to fill a tank of gas to respond to emergencies.”
“It is said that victims of sexual abuse have to pay to get the police to perform their function but this is the case. Although the Liberian government has announced plans to recruit 1,000 officers, the LNP has not yet received funds to start this desperately needed process. Each day’s delay maintains the status quo of insecurity in Liberia — and raises concerns that in the end, the recruitment process will be rushed and politically influenced, rather than a transparent process designed to train those who truly desire to serve and protect Liberia’s citizens.
The Liberia police, according to a 2013 report by Human Rights Watch, noted that underpaid and inadequately supplied police officers demand bribes at every stage of an investigation.
The “No Money, No Justice”, is the most comprehensive report on the police as it functions to ensure justice for all Liberians.
Also, the United Nations, citing a lack of professionalism and resources in the police force, recommended in February 2013 for the government to allocate more resources to law enforcement to ensure that Liberia’s security sector gains the trust of its citizens but that has not been the case since then.
Improving the criminal justice system, addressing impunity for crimes, and increasing access to justice and security services for all Liberians remain particularly important for the consolidation of peace,” the U.N. Mission in Liberia said in its report to the Security Council then.
But nine years later, the same logistics and low operation problems that the police faced at the time continue to impact its operation in 2022.
Amb. McCarthy has also disclosed government officials are accused of corruption because they refuse to declare their assets as required in the National Code of Conduct.
This, he said, would answer how senior government officials are reportedly constructing mansions and complexes in Liberia and elsewhere while on government salaries.
“Asset declarations by public officials are required by the Code of Conduct here in Liberia. These are not complicated,’’ he said.
The National Code of Conduct mandates government employees to declare their assets before entering the office and thereafter, or at the end of every three years, upon promotion or transfer to another public office and retirement or resignation.
But this has not been adhered to; public officials including President George Weah have refused to declare their assets. Government employees have continuously refused to abide by the code of conduct.
Ambassador McCarthy believes when officials publicly announce what they have before commencing their functions, it will erase the mindset of corruption, build transparency and promote democracy.
“In a healthy democracy, citizens are entitled to ask these kinds of questions of their government, and the government is obligated to provide transparent and truthful responses. But what we find too often in Liberia today is that, while the media environment readily permits such questions, those who ask them are treated as political enemies, and comprehensive answers are rarely forthcoming,” he added.
“Integrity institutions are designed to strengthen the fabric of democracy in Liberia. But they require adequate funding and government support for fulfilling their legal mandate. Instead, we are told repeatedly that Liberia’s integrity institutions suffer from inadequate budgets, cash flow interruptions, and lack of government support that in many cases prevents them from meeting their mandate,” Ambassador McCarthy said.
Speaking at the 12th Edition of Carl Gershman Democracy Lecture Forum organized by Naymote Partners for Democratic Development in Monrovia, Ambassador McCarthy said they have been informed by employees of these integrity institutions that they are sometimes under political pressure not to fulfill their mandate.
“Many Liberians insist that integrity institutions do not prosecute politically connected defendants. County governments comprise a fundamental component of Liberia’s democracy. Why don’t counties receive the level of funding due to them under Liberian law?” the U.S Ambassador asked.
He added that the Liberia National Police is severely understaffed and underfunded and that, although police corruption may well exist, police officers ask families of victims and survivors of rape for gas money not because they wish to enrich themselves, but because their government fails to provide the basic operational funding needed to fill a tank of gas to respond to emergencies.
“Although the Liberian government has announced plans to recruit 1,000 officers, the LNP has not yet received funds to start this desperately needed process. Each day’s delay maintains the status quo of insecurity in Liberia — and raises concerns that in the end, the recruitment process will be rushed and politically influenced, rather than a transparent process designed to train those who truly desire to serve and protect Liberia’s citizens.
The Carl Gershman Democracy lecture forum brings together young people to inspire them to be committed to the principles of democracy, and understand their roles and responsibilities in a democratic society.
The Forum is named in honor of the former president, Carl Gershman, National Endowment for Democracy. The event is held quarterly with the hopes to help young people grow and adhere to democratic values, norms, and ideas for the common good of the country when they excel in leadership positions.
Gershman is known for his role in promoting democracy throughout the United States, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.
He previously served as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Committee on human rights during the first Reagan Administration.