Rescue Alternative Liberia (RAL), a local human rights group, yesterday accused authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) of failing to address common human rights abuses and violations by officers.
The RAL report, “Human Rights Situation Report 2015, Security Unprofessional Behavior” charges that careless internal investigations do not hold police officers accountable for abuse of power, and that criminal investigations rarely result.
Held at the West Point Administrative Building in Monrovia, the launch was attended by LNP, UNMIL officers and community residents.
According to RAL, the report is based on interviews with community leaders, residents, eyewitnesses, law enforcement officers and others over a period of one year. He said that during that period the interviews revealed several problems common to all of them such as unjustified shootings, severe beatings, extortion, mob justice, prisoners’ rights violations and other forms of brutal physical treatment.
These abuses are violations of international human rights treaties, to which Liberia is bound, as well as domestic laws, the report also pointed out.
Furthermore, the report says the abuses are a betrayal of the public who the officers are sworn to serve and protect.
According to them, some of the cases of abuse and violation were forwarded to court while some were never addressed, thereby leaving the perpetrators (especially state security personnel) to go unpunished.
At the launch, Kedar Poudyah, Rule and Law Advisor in UNMIL’s Human Rights Section, said “Police have a responsibility to protect human rights and not to intimidate people.”
The UNMIL human rights advisor said the role of the police in the community is primarily to protect the rights of individuals and the society where he or she stays.
“Police roles come from the law and they are not to harass, intimidate and violate the rights of people,” he said.
They are there to help people and to ensure security in the community, he said.
“If something happens in the community police are there to investigate, arrest and sometimes detain, but not to treat the accused wrongly,” RAL said.
Earlier, RAL program Director, Sam M. Nimely, lauded the participants and called on the LNP to do more to protect human rights in the country, especially in the wake of the UNMIL drawdown.
He said a strong relationship between the police and the community is the best way to create trust and confidence among the two groups.