18 June 2012

Liberia: GOL Slams U.S. Human Rights Report -Says Misrepresentations Mar it

Photo: Liberia Government
U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The Liberian government had been priding itself on its internationally affirmed tolerance for politically motivated criticisms and its avoidance of extra-judicial executions or imprisonment. However, the 2011/12 Human Rights Report of the US Department of State believes the Sirleaf Administration’s so-called clean slate on human rights and civil liberty is not without causes for concern. The administration is not taking the observation lying down; it is criticizing the report as misrepresentative of the realities on the ground. The Analyst presents MICAT’s press reaction.

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice has given a detailed response to the 2011 State Department human Rights report.

In its reaction, the Government of Liberia noted areas of admirable gains such as good governance, freedom of speech among others.

The Government however rejected and clarified what it says were upright misrepresentations and imbalances in the report regarding the general state of affairs in Liberia.

In a communication addressed to the Political and Economic Counselor at the United States Embassy accredited near Monrovia, Justice Minister Christiana Tah noted that there were no politically motivated disappearances and the government has made no attempts to restrict academic freedom as was being falsely claimed by the report.

Minister Tah asserted that the report affirmed the government of Liberia’s respect for freedom of speech and press emphasizing that it was the general view of the international community that the Government of Liberia conducted a free, fair, and transparent election during the period under review.

But the Liberian Justice Minister and Attorney General pointed out that the report was marred by obvious instances of misrepresentation regarding arrest, accidental killings and reported cases of murder.

Minister Tah rejected the claims of the report referring to the death of a police officer after an unfortunate incident with a member of the AFL as a situation of “Arbitrary and unlawful deprivation of Life”; and as such, argued that it was inconclusive for personal disputes and their resultant effects to be wrongly categorized under such grave branding.

The Liberian Government’s Statement dismissed the general lack of balance of the report especially failing to point out persistent gains made by the Government in the areas of rule of Law and Justice, particularly the Judiciary, Police, prosecution, and corrections.

Minister Tah outlined targeted efforts towards security sector and judicial reforms Liberia has made with the help of the International community including, which include the training of over four Hundred Police officers and Sixty One Magistrates.

She indicated that the reforms also captured fifty prosecutors, seventy correction officers, the training of public defenders, and the introduction of probations services. She also recounted the construction of new prisons in selected cities across the country including Tubmanburg, Gbarnga, Greenville, Fishtown, Sanniquellie, and Zwedru.

Minister Tah concluded the Government’s position with a rallying call for the International community to join the Government of Liberia towards supporting the Bureau of Correction, which she considers the least supported segment of Liberia’s Justice System.

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