Liberia: Information on the new government's human rights record and information on the conditions of members of the Krahn ethnic group under the new government
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 February 1998|
|Citation / Document Symbol||LBR28675.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Liberia: Information on the new government's human rights record and information on the conditions of members of the Krahn ethnic group under the new government, 1 February 1998, LBR28675.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aae744.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
According to Country Reports 1997 the Liberian government's human rights record over the course of 1997 was poor, but better than it was in 1996. Country Reports states that ECOMOG security operations led to a decline in abuses before September 1997, but that abuses increased towards the end of 1997. Among the most serious abuses mentioned in Country Reports for the period following the election of Charles Taylor in July were deaths in police custody under suspicious circumstances, the alleged death by starvation of two inmates of the Bong County detention facility, the unpunished beating death of a taxi driver by police officers in Monrovia, and the death of opposition politician Samuel Saye Dokie and three members of his family after they were arrested on 29 November. According to Africa Confidential of 19 December 1997, Dokie and his three relatives were arrested by the police near the town of Gbarnga, allegedly on orders from Special Security Services (SSS) head Benjamin Yeaten. Although the four were last seen alive under SSS guard, SSS head Benjamin Yeaten denied that he had ordered their arrest. Five people, including the Gbarnga police chief, were arrested in connection with the deaths (ibid.). On 6 February 1998 Star Radio in Liberia reported that five unnamed people were scheduled to go on trial on 9 February for the murder of Dokie and his relatives.
Country Reports 1997 also alleges that police carried out dozens of cases of unconstitutional detentions without charge as part of an anti-crime campaign in September and October. In the latter part of the year many journalists were intimidated by the police, including six editors who were detained after their newspapers published articles considered to be critical of the government. A journalist who was investigating the death of Samuel Saye Dokie and his relatives was charged with treason, which was later reduced to an unspecified lesser charge (ibid.). In October the police detained relatives and neighbours of a suspect who was at large, releasing them when the suspect surrendered (ibid.).
On 23 January 1998 the Panafrican News Agency (PANA) reported that the managing editor of the Liberian daily newspaper The National, Hassan Bility, had been arrested on 22 January in connection with two stories that had been published in his newspaper. He was allegedly beaten by eight police officers and later hospitalized with bleeding from his right ear and eye. Police Director Joe Tate denied he had ordered Bility beaten and promised that the officers involved would be disciplined (ibid.).
On 21 December 1997 journalist Alex Redd of Ducor Radio was allegedly abducted by unidentified individuals after he attended the funeral of Samuel Saye Dokie on that date (AFP 22 Dec. 1997; PANA 24 Dec. 1997). Four other journalists also reportedly went missing after attending the Dokie funeral (ibid.; AFP 23 Dec. 1997).
On 29 December Star Radio reported that on that day Alexander Redd and his brother Benjamin were charged with "'a criminal attempt' to commit treason." Benjamin Redd was charged in absentia. The brothers were accused of giving false information implicating security officers in the alleged kidnapping of Alexander Redd (ibid.).
Two editors, Nyekeh Forkpa and Stanley Seakor, were briefly detained on 22 December after the police objected to a story they had published on police brutality (PANA 24 Dec. 1997; AFP 23 Dec. 1997). Police Director Joe Tate, commenting on the case, said that the journalists should be "very careful," adding that "[t]he boys can do anything anytime to anybody without me knowing, and maybe as soon as I get to know, it will be late" (PANA 24 Dec. 1997; ibid.). On 23 December the head of the Press Union of Liberia, Abraham Massally, said that "he and four editors of independent newspapers and radio stations had received anonymous death threats" (PANA 24 Dec. 1997).
The following section of this Response deals with the question of the condition of members of the Krahn ethnic group under the new government of Liberia.
With regard to possible discrimination against the Krahn, the section of Country Reports 1997 entitled "National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities" states only that
Some members of former President Samuel Doe's ethnic group, the Krahn, believe that they were being systematically discriminated against by the Government, although there are some Krahn holding ministerial positions in the Government.
On 1 August 1997, AFP reported that President Taylor had appointed Maxwell Kaba as Minister of Post and Communications. Kaba was described as "a member of the now-defunct Krahn wing of the United Liberation Movement, a faction opposed to Taylor's during the war" (ibid.). AFP reported on 5 August 1997 that President Taylor had named Roosevelt Johnson, who had formed a wing of the United Liberation Movement (ULIMO) made up largely of ethnic Krahns, as Minister of Rural Development in his new government. However, AFP noted that the Rural Development ministry was considered to be unimportant and lacked its own premises.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Africa Confidential [London]. 19 December 1997. Vol. 38, No. 25. "Liberia: Dokie's Death."
Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series [Oxford]. 1-30 November 1997. Vol. 34, No. 11. "Liberia: Army Discussions."
Agence France Presse (AFP). 23 December 1997. "Concern Mounts Over Abducted, Missing Liberian Journalists." (NEXIS)
_____.22 December 1997. "Liberian Journalist Abducted by President's Supporters." (NEXIS)
_____. [Paris, in English] 5 August 1997. "Liberia: Liberia's Taylor Appoints Former Warlord Minister." (FBIS-AFR-97-217 5 Aug. 1997/WNC)
_____. 1 August 1997. "Liberia: ECOMOG Parades in Monrovia; Taylor Names 3 Cabinet Members." (FBIS-AFR-97-213 1 Aug. 1997/WNC)
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997. 1998. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Internet] < http://www.state.gov/www/global/hu...ights/1997_hrp_report > [Accessed on 6 Feb. 1998]
Panafrican News Agency (PANA). 23 January 1998. Tepitapia Sannah. "Police Flog Newspaper Editor." [Internet] < http://www.africanews.org/west/liberia/stories/19980123 > [Accessed on 9 Feb. 1998]
_____. 24 December 1997. Tepitapia Sannah. "Liberia; Concern Mounts Over Fate of Missing Liberian Broadcaster." (Africa News Service 24 Dec. 1997/NEXIS)
Star Radio [Monrovia]. 6 February 1998. "Liberian Daily News Bulletin." [Internet] < http://www.africanews.org/west/liberia/stories/19980206 > [Accessed on 9 Feb. 1998]
_____. 29 December 1997. "Liberian Daily News Bulletin." (Africa News Service 29 Dec. 1997/NEXIS)