U.S Gov’t Report Links Liberia to Human Rights Abuse, Corruption

4
778
Flashback: Ambassador Michael McCarty presents letters credence to President George M. Weah

By David A. Yates and Judoemue M. Kollie

A recently released US State Department’s Human Rights Report has linked Liberia to massive human rights abuses and corrupt practices, covering the year 2020.

The human rights issues and corrupt practices highlighted in the report include arbitrary killings by police which include cases of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary detention by government officials, serious problems with the independence of the judiciary and serious restrictions on freedom of the press, and among others.

The US annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices –cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.

The U.S. Department of State submits reports on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states to the U.S. Congress in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974.

The report is published barely two weeks when there is speculation that the U.S government is intending to take some serious measures against officials of the Liberian government who are engaged in constant human rights violation and the misuse of public resources to the detriment of the Liberian citizens.

The report released on Tuesday, March 30, amongst other things, cites the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Abraham Tumbay by police, the flogging of fallen Liberian journalist Zenu Miller by presidential guards of President George M. Weah. 

The report also captured other issues such as harsh and life-threatening prison conditions due to food shortages, gross overcrowding, and poor medical care. It also exposed Liberian police officers to sometimes requesting money to effect arrests for prosecuting authorities. 

Regarding civil liberties, the report said while the constitution provides for freedom of speech, government officials use civil, libel, and slander laws to place limits on freedom of speech; and self-censorship is widespread. Radio stations avoided criticizing government officials due to fear of legal sanctions and potential loss of government advertising.

Additionally, according to the report, the Liberian law provides criminal penalties for bribery, abuse of office, economic sabotage, and other corruption-related offenses committed by officials, but the government did not implement the law effectively. There were numerous reports of government corruption. Officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.

“The mandate of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is to prevent, investigate, and prosecute cases of corruption among public officials. In March, President Weah appointed the out gone Chairman of the LACC, Ndubuisi Nwabudike, as Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), ahead of the December 8 midterm senatorial elections. Amid questions surrounding Nwabudike’s Liberian nationality, the President withdrew his nomination to the NEC, but Nwabudike remained the head at the LACC,” the report added.

On June 19, the LNBA announced it had expelled the LACC chairman after establishing that he fraudulently presented himself as a Liberian to obtain membership with the LNBA.

Corruption: Following an investigation by the LACC, on June 2, a grand jury indicted Senate Secretary Nanborlor Singbeh, as well as former officials of the National Investment Commission, for defrauding two Czech investors of approximately five million dollars in a gravel production business. Singbeh was charged with economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery, and criminal conspiracy.

Singbeh allegedly used his position to obtain a government investment incentive package, which he used unlawfully to import vehicles and equipment for personal gain. On June 29, court officers of Criminal Court C arrested Singbeh. The case remained pending before the court at year’s end.

In June 2019 a grand jury indicted 10 persons, including House of Representatives Edward W. Karfiah and Josiah M. Cole, following an investigation by the LACC into corruption related to the construction of the Bong County Technical College.

According to the press release, the individuals were accused of using fraud to embezzle approximately $2.7 million in county development funds.

According to media reports, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler, was listed in documents as owning 7.5 percent of the company contracted to build the college; Tyler was Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time of the alleged scheme, and funds from the national budget were allocated to the project despite a lack of visible progress.

The report also highlights harassment of newspapers and radio owners by government officials as well as individuals journalists because of their political opinions and reporting. 

Regarding transparency in government, the US government said, Liberia has failed to implement laws targeting bribery, abuse of office, economic sabotage. It noted that government officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. 

Meanwhile, the government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism is expected to provide an official response on the US State Department 2020 Human Rights Report on Liberia at its regular MICAT press briefing today.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Fire in the hole! When US Congressman accused the Weah’s administration of kleptocracy, and the US Embassy distance itself from contents of the comments, the CDC’s leadership came swinging without clearly understanding international diplomacy. Now, here you have it! This is the official position of the US Government under President Biden. Any more comments?

  2. ” Fire in the hole”! At this stage, and in all these years you have been reading exchanges from those of us well grounded in the disciplines of International Law and Diplomacy, and International Politics, you still have not been able to comprehend and assimilate that these annual reports on human rights by international actors (eg. states, international organizations, etc.) are mere international political rituals which do not even necessarily or generally affect the standings of states within the United Nations nor can such reports ever generally or necessarily affect the economic, political, military, or diplomatic relations between say the United States than even those states with the lowest human rights, etc. ratings, as evidenced by the US Embassy swiftly dumping Chris Smith.

    Now go back to THE REPORT and read the records on the nearly 200 countries (eg. from A TO Z, or Nigeria, Ivory Coast, South Africa, or even Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Pakistan…Americas most strategic allies in the Middle East) , and you will see that our aforementioned articulations are not only consistent with ANALYTIC JUDGEMENT (validated truthfulness) but indeed consistent with the epistemological and ontological factuality, truism, and reality, of contemporary foreign affairs whether it within the realm of international law and politics, or international law and diplomacy!

    And this is inter alia why the the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Morovia wasted no time in swiftly distancing the U.S. from Chris Smitht’s Rants.

  3. The U.S has for a long long time been rightfully treating Liberia like an unrepentant criminal. And out of exasperation could’ve sent in the ‘dogs of war’, a take gleaned from Dr Neils Hahn’s book titled “U.S Covert and Overt Operations in Liberia, from the 1970s to 2003”. Mind you, a people situated on the landmass formerly called Grain Coast, yet are dependent on American Pussawa rice to feed themselves cannot claim to be responsible, or a sovereign nation.

    This sadly brings me to the stringent statement from the U.S State Department. For the benefit of readers unfamiliar with how things work here, if you are an American citizen receiving assistance from taxpayers, the federal government would berate you, and control your life. Imagine, then, U.S taxpayers perpetually giving handouts to successive Liberian administrations whose leaders habitually misuse their country’s natural resources, and aspire only to be richer than the nation.

    But the overriding question becomes, is the U.S State Department’s statement true or false? Instead of whining, the political leadership should see it as an opportunity to jump start reforms within the referenced institutions. Lest we forget, many Liberians have been demanding some of them since 2009 – to no avail. GoL should get up and go to work. Denial won’t do when deep penetration by U.S assets of every facet of the government gives them access to information GMW doesn’t know about.

  4. Certainly, for some, ”the overriding question” may be ”whether the statement is true or false.”

    But also, for many actually ”in the know” of United States POLICY towards Liberia from

    (1) the time the American Civil War removed the principal objections and objectors of the presence of a Black envoy in Washington DC (for which America held back its recognition of Liberia’s independence) TO THE PRESENT PARTICULARLY, and or towards Africa, has there

    (2) ever been such A U.S Gov’t Report WHICH IS NOT THE REPLICA OF THIS 2020 REPORT??? THE ANSWER IS AN ANALYTIC JUDGEMENTAL NO AS OPPOSED TO A SYNTHETIC JUDGEMENTAL NO! Analytic judgements are validated and proven truths, while synthetic judgements require proof.

    So,

    (3)even the decision makers of the US, and those of the diplomatic and international communities, including the rest of Liberias domestic, regional, and global, partners are, UNLIKE ZOMBIES AND MEDIA CHEERLEADERS, aware that for a local media or domestic press up for the highest bidder and generally doing the biddings of the so called opposition, not to talk about its futile obsession with its usual lackadaisical priming to set the political agenda, trying to make a mountain out of a mole, simply

    (4)tallies with THIS MEDIA, PRESS FOR THE HIGHEST BIDDER dissemination of confirmation bias, and inaccuracy!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here