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TITLE:  LIBERIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                            
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


In 1993 Liberia remained divided geographically and factionally 
into three main regions and competing political-military groups 
as a result of the 4-year civil war.  The Interim Government of 
National Unity (IGNU), a coalition of political parties and 
interest groups led by President Amos Sawyer, administered 
Monrovia and the expanded perimeter around it secured by the 
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Cease-fire 
Monitoring Group (ECOMOG).  Over half of the country's current 
population resided within IGNU's area.  The Charles Taylor-led 
National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly Government (NPRAG) 
and its political-military arm, the National Patriotic Front of 
Liberia (NPFL), held several central and southern counties.  
The anti-NPFL United Liberation Movement for Democracy in 
Liberia (ULIMO), led by Alhaji Kromah, controlled the three 
western counties and portions of two central counties.  The 
other important warring faction is the Armed Forces of Liberia 
(AFL), the remnants of the late President Samuel Doe's army, 
which is nominally subordinate to IGNU but also has close ties 
to ULIMO.  During the last quarter of the year, the Liberian 
Peace Council (LPC), which has ties to the AFL, initiated a 
military campaign against NPFL control of the southeastern 
counties while the Lofa Defense Force (LDF) emerged in the 
northwest to challenge ULIMO.

The three major Liberian groups (IGNU, NPFL, ULIMO) executed a 
peace accord on July 25--the third such agreement since 1990-- 
under the auspices of ECOWAS, the United Nations, and the 
Organization of African Unity (OAU).  The accord reestablished 
a cease-fire and provided for demobilization of warring 
factions, a unified national transitional government, and free 
elections by March 1994.  However, there was little movement 
through the rest of the year in implementing the accord, 
primarily because of factional differences in interpreting the 
accord and delays in the arrival of additional peacekeepers 
needed to help carry out disarmament.  In September the United 
Nations Security Council established a U.N. Observer Mission in 
Liberia (UNOMIL), in accordance with the peace accord, to help 
ECOMOG monitor the cease-fire and disarmament.  By year's end, 
over 270 of an expected 303 UNOMIL military observers had 
arrived in Liberia.

The July accord helped stabilize the military situation which 
had been in flux since October 1992, when ECOMOG forces, 
assisted by AFL and ULIMO troops, successfully defended 
Monrovia against NPFL attacks.  Subsequently, the ECOMOG 
extended the capital's defensive perimeter in the first months 
of the year, taking the port of Buchanan, Liberia's second city 
approximately 50 miles southeast of Monrovia, and Kakata, a key 
transportation hub 30 miles northeast of Monrovia.  Meanwhile, 
ULIMO displaced the NPFL from substantial areas in northwestern 
and central Liberia.  By April fighting subsided to sporadic 
low-intensity encounters along the enlarged perimeter.

ECOMOG assumed most police powers in Monrovia because the IGNU 
police force, reconstituted in 1991, initially was unarmed and 
ineffective, although IGNU later formed some relatively better 
equipped armed special security units.  NPFL and ULIMO military 
and police forces asserted control in their areas.  There were 
massive human rights violations by NPFL, ULIMO, and AFL units 
during 1993.  While ECOMOG forces generally conducted 
themselves well, they were also responsible for a number of 
serious abuses (see Sections 1.a. and 1.g.).

The civil war-ravaged economy, previously based primarily on 
iron ore, rubber, timber, diamonds, and gold exports, continued 
to decline.  The year's gross domestic product was projected at 
less than half of prewar levels.  Massive emergency operations 
by the United Nations, as well as by American and other 
Western-based relief agencies and nongovernmental organizations 
(NGO's), brought subsistence-level humanitarian assistance to 
most Liberians.  These operations continued throughout 1993 but 
were periodically suspended outside of Monrovia because of 
intermittent fighting, harassment of relief workers by 
combatants, and security restrictions imposed by ECOMOG.

While all parties professed to honor the 1985 Liberian 
Constitution, roughly based on the United States model, the 
document's provisions were selectively ignored and unevenly 
applied, although less so in IGNU-controlled areas.  Human 
rights were widely violated, particularly for civilians in 
territory controlled by the NPFL and ULIMO armed factions.  
Since 1989, an estimated 150,000 Liberians have been killed or 
wounded as a result of the conflict, and hundreds of thousands 
have fled abroad or are displaced within Liberia.  On June 6, 
according to a U.N.-commissioned investigation, the AFL 
massacred over 500 displaced persons, mostly defenseless women 
and children, at the Firestone plantation near Harbel.  
Credible reports indicated that NPFL fighters killed over 130 
civilians at Fassima, Lofa County, on May 15.  All warring 
factions committed other egregious human rights violations, 
e.g., use of excessive force, arbitrary detentions, forced 
conscription, torture, and summary executions.  IGNU security 
personnel and, to a much lesser extent, individual ECOMOG 
soldiers committed excesses in Monrovia during the year.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Numerous cases of extrajudicial killing were reported.  
Although professing adherence to the rule of law, the leaders 
of the warring factions condoned and, in some instances, 
seemingly encouraged lethal brutality (see Section 1.g.).

The ECOMOG peacekeeping force maintained a commendable record 
and policy against unlawful behavior, but there were reported 
incidents of individual ECOMOG fighters killing civilians.  An 
unconfirmed account implicated ECOMOG soldiers in the fatal 
January beating of a youth identified as an NPFL fighter by 
residents of a Monrovia suburb.  In addition, ULIMO efforts to 
consolidate its position in Lofa County prompted credible 
reports of numerous political killings there during the last 
quarter of 1993.

There were no reported cases of the factions punishing fighters 
for politically motivated killings.  In one instance, the AFL 
imposed capital punishment against a soldier convicted in the 
criminal homicide of a Monrovia resident.  Human rights 
observers viewed the case not as a genuine commitment to 
instill professional discipline but as a ploy by the AFL 
hierarchy to disarm criticism of its institutional behavior.

     b.  Disappearance

Disappearances were not believed to be common, but there were 
reports (of varying degrees of credibility) of young men 
disappearing while in the custody of AFL, NPFL, or ULIMO 
fighters, possibly victims of forced conscription or 
execution.  Very little new information was available about 
persons missing as a result of the war.  The October 1992 NPFL 
attack on Monrovia resulted in hundreds of missing suburban 
Monrovia residents.  Others disappeared when fighting spread to 
other parts of the country.  There were credible reports that 
many people were unwillingly moved to sites in NPFL territory.  
Many of those forcibly removed were feared to have been killed.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits torture and degrading treatment.  
While not descending to the same level of the 1989-90 civil war 
period, inhuman treatment continued to be frequent.  Monrovia 
remained the safest area for civilians, but reliable sources 
claimed that IGNU police frequently beat criminal suspects in 
their custody.  The IGNU Ministry of Internal Affairs sometimes 
relied on "trial by ordeal" or "sassywood"--subjecting suspects 
to the excruciation of metal objects heated by burning wood--to 
coerce confessions in criminal investigations.  

There are credible reports that ECOMOG soldiers beat criminal 
suspects and harassed individuals at ECOMOG checkpoints in 
Monrovia.  Prominent Monrovia politician Peter Bonner Jallah, 
arrested in November 1992 for allegedly aiding the NPFL attack 
on Monrovia, credibly claimed he was tortured by ECOMOG and 
IGNU intelligence officers, as evidenced by the impaired use of 
his hands.

NPFL soldiers were also widely accused of beating and torturing 
civilians, especially persons suspected of being ULIMO 
operatives.  At numerous highway checkpoints in NPFL areas, 
NPFL forces beat civilians and forced them to disrobe, usually 
in connection with extortion or other forms of intimidation.  
Much of the reported NPFL inhuman treatment was centered in 
Grand Gedeh County, the home county of the late president 
Samuel Doe and his Krahn ethnic group.  NPFL leader Charles 
Taylor publicly condemned harassment of civilians but chose to 
discipline offending troops only when expedient.  

Civilians in ULIMO-held areas fared little better.  ULIMO 
checkpoint guards and roving bands harassed and beat civilians 
if they resisted extortion.  For example, in June ULIMO bands 
raided several villages in Cape Mount County, beating and 
threatening villagers alleged to be NPFL accomplices.  There 
were also numerous reports, difficult to confirm, of ULIMO'S 
Mandingo forces executing or generally harassing citizens of 
Lofa County because of religious and ethnic differences.

Conditions in the nation's often makeshift jails were hazardous 
to life and health prior to the civil war and were more dismal 
in 1993.  Reports were remarkably similar:  prisoners denied 
medical care, family contacts, and adequate food; living in 
small, crowded, and filthy cells or rooms.  It was not possible 
to determine whether any prisoners died because of these 
conditions.  In Monrovia pretrial detainees were often housed 
with convicted criminals, but women and children appeared to be 
held separately.  IGNU has not given prison reform a high 
priority, and there has been no attempt to improve the largely 
untrained guard force.  The Monrovia-based Center for Law and 
Human Rights Education and other human rights advocates were 
finally allowed to visit the Central Prison toward the end of 
the year after IGNU had denied previous requests for access.

The AFL continued to detain an unknown number of alleged NPFL 
collaborators at its stockade in Monrovia.  According to a 
leading human rights organization, these detainees (including 
children)--many held incommunicado--suffered deplorable living 
conditions and experienced occasional harassment by cell guards.

The conditions of detention in NPFL and ULIMO territory were 
even worse, according to credible sources; both factions held 
prisoners in makeshift, substandard facilities and subjected 
them to various forms of mistreatment.  A prominent Monrovia 
journalist and another credible returnee described physical and 
psychological mistreatment--including beatings, rape, and 
threatened executions--of abducted civilians.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The 1985 Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrests, but in the 
aftermath of the war there were few functioning institutional 
safeguards preventing these malpractices.  The Constitution 
provides for the rights of the accused, including warrants for 
arrests and the right of detainees either to be charged or to 
be released within 48 hours.  These provisions were widely 
ignored, although the bail system functioned relatively well in 

IGNU President Sawyer repeatedly affirmed his administration's 
respect for constitutional procedural safeguards.  However, 
administrative inefficiency, delays in appointing judges, and 
poorly trained criminal justice personnel resulted in detainees 
being held for long periods without trial or charges.  In 
practice, police officers had wide discretion to make arrests.  
This authority was often abused.  Arrests regularly took place 
without probable cause.  Many police officers accepted bribes 
to arrest persons based on unsubstantiated allegations.  At 
times they failed to inform detainees of the charges against 
them, and often charges went unrecorded.  Many suspects were 
held incommunicado.  Police occasionally coerced confessions 
from persons illegally detained.

As ECOMOG gradually took on more police duties in response to 
the escalating crime rate, citizens called on ECOMOG soldiers 
to arrest and detain alleged criminals.  However, detentions by 
ECOMOG peacekeepers did not always satisfy constitutional or 
internationally recognized standards.  ECOMOG soldiers 
sometimes physically coerced confessions from suspects. 

While accurate arrest information was unavailable, charged and 
uncharged pretrial detainees formed a sizable portion of the 
total incarcerated population at year's end and likely numbered 
in the hundreds.  It was impossible to determine the number of 
political detainees among this total.  However, politician 
Peter Bonner Jallah remained confined after being detained by 
ECOMOG in November 1992 for allegedly abetting the NPFL attack 
on Monrovia.  According to Jallah's attorney, ECOMOG has failed 
to produce evidence implicating his client or to charge him 
formally.  Criminal law also allows for the writ of habeas 
corpus, but the IGNU judiciary denied a September attempt to 
secure a writ on behalf of Bonner Jallah.  The denial was on 
the basis that he was a "prisoner of war"--even after the July 
cease-fire accord provided for the release of all faction 
prisoners and although the term is of questionable 
applicability to internal armed conflicts.  There was no change 
in the Jallah case by year's end.

Arbitrary detentions were commonplace in NPFL territory where 
martial law has been in effect since the war began.  NPFL 
soldiers and police officers had almost unbridled power to make 
warrantless arrests.  They exercised that power often and 
capriciously, detaining hundreds of persons on spurious grounds 
or without charge for periods ranging from several hours to 
several weeks.  Detainees in NPFL territory were rarely 
informed of their legal rights.  The writ of habeas corpus 
remained suspended, and access to bail was basically 
unavailable.  ULIMO's arrest and detention practices mirrored 
the NPFL's lack of procedural safeguards.

Many Monrovia area residents abducted by NPFL fighters during 
the October 1992 attack on Monrovia remained in NPFL custody.  
The NPFL refused to relinquish custody of over 250 orphans 
abducted from a Monrovia suburb in 1992, despite U.N. and other 
humanitarian entreaties.  In early 1993, the AFL detained over 
a dozen suspected NPFL supporters whose fate is unknown.

During the year, there were no reports of Liberians being 
subjected to forced political exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Liberia's legal system is closely modeled on that of the United 
States, with the Supreme Court at its apex.  Before the civil 
war, however, the system afforded little protection in practice 
for defendants, due to corruption among court officials, lack 
of training, and a domineering executive branch.  By mid-1990, 
the system had completely collapsed, along with the rest of 
civil authority, with justice resting in the hands of the 
military commanders of the factions.

In 1991 IGNU slowly began to reconstitute the court system in 
the Monrovia area.  It reestablished several magistrate courts 
in Monrovia and swore into office new circuit court judges.  In 
Monrovia criminal defendants, in theory and generally in 
practice, were entitled to a defense attorney, pretrial 
discovery of accusatory material, and the right to appeal.  
Corruption in the judiciary was a recurrent problem, often 
cited by human rights monitors, the press, and members of the 
bar.  There seemed to be no overt judicial interference by the 
IGNU executive.  However, the courts almost universally sided 
with IGNU in controversial cases as in the Jallah case when the 
criminal court denied him a writ of habeas corpus on highly 
questionable legal grounds.

In addition to the resurrection of the modern court system, 
customary law was also applied in many areas.  In Monrovia the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs often subjected persons accused of 
occult practices and other crimes to "trial by ordeal," i.e., 
submitting defendants to physical travail to adjudicate 
innocence or guilt (see Section 1.c.).  This customary mode of 
justice was also used by traditional authorities in some rural 
courts which operated in 1993 in areas under IGNU control.  

There are few national institutions still working across 
faction lines.  The ad hoc Supreme Court is one exception.  
Under the auspices of the ECOWAS peace process, IGNU and the 
NPFL agreed on the creation of a five-member ad hoc Supreme 
Court in September 1991.  In 1992 IGNU and NPRAG agreed that 
the Court should have the full jurisdiction provided by the 
Constitution.  The ad hoc Supreme Court, which has assumed the 
full jurisdiction of the regular Supreme Court, continued 
hearing a variety of civil and criminal cases in 1993 but, like 
the rest of the court system, tended to avoid controversial 
cases arising from the violation of law and human rights during 
the civil war.  Under the July peace accord, ULIMO named a 
justice to fill the seat on the bench left vacant by the 1993 
death of the Chief Justice.

The NPFL also partially reactivated in 1991 the court system in 
areas under its control.  In practice, legal and judicial 
protections were almost totally lacking as executive branch 
interference was pervasive and overt.  ULIMO judicial practices 
and protections were equally suspect to the extent they existed.

Given the situation in Liberia, it was not possible to 
determine either the number of political detainees (see Section 
1.d.) or political prisoners among the many "prisoners" being 
held by the various factions.  An illustrated news report in 
December, however, charged that some 800 of the 1,000 prisoners 
held at the substandard Monrovia Central Prison under IGNU and 
ECOMOG guard were ex-combatants, primarily from the failed 
October 1992 NPFL attack on Monrovia.  Embarrassed by the 
situation, IGNU appointed a panel to investigate the 

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or

While the Constitution provides for these rights, there were 
many serious abuses of privacy and home--including confiscation 
of property and failure to obtain required warrants--by 
soldiers of all of the warring factions.  There was no evidence 
of frequent surveillance of individuals.

AFL soldiers committed many armed robberies in the Monrovia 
area.  As ECOMOG expanded its defensive perimeter, AFL or ULIMO 
brigands followed to pillage and loot these areas, including 
the Firestone plantation.  Virtually any valuable object was 
pilfered.  ULIMO fighters regularly raided villages in their 
areas and conducted house searches for loot to sell in 
Monrovia.  They also illegally occupied many private homes.

The situation regarding interference with person or property in 
NPFL territory was even more abysmal.  Throughout NPFL 
territory, NPFL soldiers regularly demanded scarce food and 
personal valuables from already impoverished residents or 
displaced persons and often robbed and physically abused 
travelers, particularly at checkpoints.  Confiscation of 
private homes and vehicles was also common practice.  To escape 
harassment, many Liberians moved their families to remote areas 
or out of Liberia.  Occasionally ECOMOG conducted searches, 
without warrants, of Monrovia households for weapons caches, 
but there were no reported incidents of violence or theft 
during these searches.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian
         Law in Internal Conflicts

During the first half of 1993, fighting moved to western and 
central Liberia as the military tide turned against the NPFL 
after its unsuccessful attack on Monrovia in October 1992.  As 
has been the case throughout the civil war, "fighting" was an 
inaccurate description, for there were few battles between 
opposing militaries.  In fact, the warring factions inflicted 
considerably more harm on noncombatants than on each other.  
AFL, NPFL, and ULIMO fighters indiscriminately ransacked 
villages, abused populations, and confiscated scant food 
supplies.  They also murdered innocent civilians and regularly 
committed violence against women, including rape.  

Although there was no credible evidence of willful ECOMOG 
violations of humanitarian law, there were incidents of 
civilian deaths and damage from ECOMOG aerial strikes.  In late 
February, ECOMOG planes strafed near the Cote d'Ivoire border, 
injuring some civilians and temporarily panicking civilians and 
relief workers in the areas.  In September Nigerian planes, 
based in Sierra Leone and supporting both the Sierra Leonean 
counterinsurrection and the ECOMOG operation, strafed a refugee 
settlement along the border, killing 6 and injuring nearly 40 

On June 6, a group of armed fighters slaughtered over 500 
displaced persons, mostly women and children, at a settlement 
on the Firestone plantation at Harbel.  A U.N. investigation 
team, comprised of three eminent international lawyers and 
human rights advocates, concluded in a September report that 
the AFL committed the act and cited substantial evidence 
supporting this finding.  AFL soldiers were also caught in 
possession of property looted from the settlement.  The Interim 
Government and the AFL disputed the U.N. team's finding, 
insisting on NPFL culpability.  Three AFL soldiers whom the 
U.N. report identified as key participants in the massacre were 
initially ordered held by IGNU but were never actually detained 
or arrested by IGNU or AFL authorities.

In another highly publicized case, several AFL soldiers in late 
January killed British scientist Brian Garnham at his animal 
research institute outside Monrovia.  According to witnesses, 
Garnham was pleading for his life when fatally shot at close 
range.  The assailants, without any basis, had accused Garnham 
of NPFL sympathies.  The Interim Government established an 
AFL-chaired committee to investigate the incident.  However, 
credible human rights monitors criticized the composition and 
the poor performance of the committee.  At year's end, no 
suspect had been formally charged with the murder; lesser 
charges against one of the five soldiers implicated in the 
incident were dismissed by an AFL court-martial, and the cases 
against the others languished.

The NPFL also committed unlawful killings.  In early May, a 
broadcast reportedly intercepted by ECOMOG recorded NPFL 
leadership ordering fighters to target civilian populations in 
a "reign of terror."  Shortly thereafter, a massacre of more 
than 130 civilians at Fassima took place.  Although the 
massacre is believed to have been committed by NPFL fighters, 
the facts of the incident were not subsequently confirmed by 
independent investigation or prosecution.  Survivors were 
believed to have been abducted and massively abused.  In 
January dozens of bodies--several beheaded--were found in 
unmarked graves in Monrovia's northwestern suburbs.  The 
killings were probably committed by NPFL fighters before 
retreating from the area in November and December 1992.  While 
advancing toward Buchanan in March, ECOMOG troops found scores 
of civilian corpses along the roadsides.  NPFL fighters 
apparently killed civilians who tried to flee to ECOMOG lines.

NPFL fighters are also believed responsible for the massacre of 
over 200 civilians in separate incidents in Montserrado and 
Margibi counties, north of Monrovia.  An unconfirmed report 
attributed the alleged executions of another 200 displaced 
persons in Camp Todee to the NPFL.  Many of the most egregious 
NPFL offenses continued to take place in Grand Gedeh County, 
where Gio and Mano NPFL fighters exacted revenge against their 
Krahn ethnic rivals.  In September fighting was reported 
between the NPFL and the Krahn-dominated LPC along the Grand 
Gedeh County-Ivoirian border.  Military operations by the LPC 
in the southeast during the last quarter of the year resulted 
in many civilian deaths.  There were credible reports of LPC 
abuses against suspected NPFL sympathizers and members of other 
ethnic groups.

ULIMO also preyed on civilians in its area.  Residents, local 
human rights organizations, and relief workers reported 
numerous ULIMO human rights abuses in Lofa County.  Advancing 
ULIMO fighters executed several village elders for being 
alleged supporters or harboring the NPFL in their villages.  
Often the victims executed had been forced to accommodate the 
NPFL under threat of bodily harm.  Unconfirmed reports also 
indicated that ULIMO might have executed several NPFL fighters 
attempting to surrender after the August 1 cease-fire.  
Intensified ULIMO operations in Lofa County after August 
prompted the emergence of the Lofa Defense Force, which charged 
Mandingo members of ULIMO with abusing local citizens.  
Credible sources claimed that both ULIMO and the NPFL executed 
innocent civilians, usually young men, on the mere suspicion 
that the victims belonged to the rival group.  Both ULIMO and 
the NPFL mistreated Sierra Leonean refugees living in western 

Continuing a practice begun in 1992, both ULIMO and AFL troops 
executed civilians in Monrovia, according to reliable sources.  
These reports cited AFL and ULIMO squads targeting former 
members of the NPFL and the Independent National Patriotic 
Front of Liberia, a defunct offshoot of the NPFL.  Nighttime 
bands of AFL and ULIMO fighters occasionally roamed sections of 
the city searching for Gio and Mano tribe members from Nimba 
County, whom they would torture or kill.

Both ULIMO and the NPFL exploited minors as fighters.  During 
the first half of the year, the NPFL continued its program of 
involuntary conscription, including children, in Nimba County 
and southeastern Liberia.  The NPFL beat and tortured persons 
who refused to join their ranks and local government officials 
who refused to implement the conscription program.

The warring factions tried to exploit humanitarian relief 
efforts to their political advantage, often to the detriment of 
the affected populations.  After intensifying its Lofa 
operations, ULIMO denied relief workers access to besieged 
areas and hijacked their vehicles and supplies on several 
occasions.  The NPFL used relief convoys entering its area as a 
means of circumventing ECOWAS economic sanctions and possibly 
the international arms embargo.  The NPFL insisted that relief 
must cross the international border with Cote d'Ivoire although 
direct shipments from Monrovia constituted the shortest route 
to the most needy populations in NPFL territory.  In the 
absence of mechanisms to monitor the contents of relief 
convoys, ECOMOG imposed restrictions on NGO and U.N. relief 
operations, including cross-border deliveries.  In September 
ECOMOG acceded to more liberal cross-border operations once its 
arms embargo and economic sanctions enforcement concerns were 
resolved by the stationing of monitors at key entry points.

A number of Liberian employees of relief organizations, 
including the United Nations, were detained by the factions 
during the year; some were beaten or threatened.  For example, 
in October the NPFL detained 10 drivers and workers of a U.N. 
World Food Program convoy on suspicion of spying, held them for 
several weeks, and mistreated some of them.  A few foreign 
relief workers also were detained, mostly for short periods.  
In one case detained relief workers were forced to endure an ad 
hoc trial and mock execution.  Occasionally, NPFL and ULIMO 
soldiers tried to confiscate relief supplies or relief vehicles 
from relief workers; fighters from all factions commonly 
confiscated relief food after the humanitarian groups had 
distributed it.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

These freedoms are provided for in the Constitution and, with 
some significant limitations, were generally exercised in 
Monrovia.  There were more far-reaching limitations elsewhere.  
Due primarily to continued economic stagnation, the number of 
media organs in Monrovia diminished to approximately 5 to 7 
privately owned newspapers (down from 12 in 1992), 3 of which 
published regularly.  The Interim Government newspaper, The 
Liberian Times, was not published in 1993.  Official press 
censorship was not pervasive in Monrovia, nor were any 
newspapers forcibly closed during the year.  However, the 
Monrovia press tended to be pro-IGNU; and some journalists 
admitted self-censorship.  Other journalists asserted that 
constant public calls by IGNU officials for a "more 
responsible" press had a chilling effect on journalistic 
freedom.  At times journalists were requested to meet privately 
with IGNU officials who had been offended by articles.

In reaction to perceived NPFL military preparations along the 
defensive perimeter in May and June, IGNU ordered that 
journalists submit all "war-related" stories to the Ministries 
of Information and Justice for clearance on national security 
grounds.  The Press Union of Liberia and newspaper publishers 
objected to the measure as a prior restraint.  The Press Union 
and the Interim Government later compromised on guidelines for 
military reporting.  In September IGNU repealed decree 88-a, 
which had been used by the former Doe regime to stifle free 
speech by criminalizing criticism of government on national 
security grounds.  However, a restrictive, Doe-era media law, 
providing the Ministry of Information wide discretion in 
licensing and regulating journalists, still remained on the 

There were no official or private newspapers printed in NPFL or 
ULIMO territory.  International journalists visited NPFL areas 
intermittently throughout the year, with no indications of 
official censorship.  Because of the fighting, journalists from 
Monrovia were prohibited from covering events in NPFL areas, 
and vice versa.  Residents of Liberia had to exercise care in 
their criticism of the various factions.  Although NPFL leader 
Charles Taylor affirmed publicly on several occasions that his 
government supported free speech, citizens in his area were 
subject to sanctions for criticizing the NPFL.  Citizens in 
ULIMO territory also had to exercise care.  After a group of 
citizens published a statement that ULIMO should relinquish to 
IGNU control of the western counties, the ULIMO leadership 
exerted pressure for a retraction.

IGNU supported a shortwave radio station (ELBC) and also 
continued radio broadcasts in 1993.  News reports were 
favorable to IGNU, and many credible journalists allege 
substantial censorship by ELBC.  The NPFL intermittently 
operated two radio stations in its area.  NPFL news programs 
uncritically supported Charles Taylor's NPFL and offered no 
criticism of his political program.

The University of Liberia, which closed temporarily after 
fighting erupted in October 1992, was open most of the year.  
Academic freedom was generally respected, although pro-NPFL 
expression was criticized by university authorities and most of 
the student body.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the rights of peaceful assembly 
and association.  In Monrovia, several groups held peaceful 
demonstrations--ranging from support of the peace process to a 
group celebrating late president Doe's birthday.  Some of the 
unhindered processions were critical of IGNU, and most took 
place without permits.  Nevertheless, authorities moved quickly 
to disband gatherings that they believed could incite unrest.  
In June ECOMOG prohibited a pro-ULIMO rally at a local sports 
stadium.  In September ECOMOG and IGNU police peacefully 
dispersed demonstrations by market vendors protesting rising 
wholesale prices.  The 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. nighttime curfew in 
Monrovia, imposed after the NPFL attack in 1992, continued in 
force.  ECOMOG soldiers were ordered to enforce the measure 
strictly, and numerous persons were arrested for 
noncompliance.  AFL soldiers reportedly killed or wounded a few 
citizens for breaking the curfew.  ECOMOG periodically meted 
out corporal punishment to repeat curfew violators.

Political parties and other groups were able to organize freely 
and hold public meetings in Monrovia.  Freedom of assembly and 
association was generally more restricted in NPFL areas than in 
Monrovia.  None of the prewar political parties was known to 
have held public meetings in NPFL areas.  There were several 
anti-U.N. demonstrations in NPFL territory protesting the 
alleged lack of U.N. humanitarian assistance to NPFL areas and 
perceived pro-IGNU bias by the United Nations.  These 
demonstrations were probably orchestrated by NPFL officials.  
Citizens could not independently organize public 
demonstrations, particularly any critical of the NPFL.  In 
ULIMO areas, residents still felt intimidated and did not 
attempt demonstrations critical of ULIMO for fear of reprisal.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The 1985 Constitution recognizes freedom of religion as a 
fundamental right, and Liberia has no established state 
religion.  Christianity has long been the religion of the 
political and economic elite, while the majority of the 
population follows traditional religions or practices a mixture 
of traditional religions and Christianity or Islam.

There was no evidence of systematic violation of religious 
freedom by warring factions, but there were isolated and 
sometimes violent incidents of religious repression by local 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for freedom of movement throughout 
Liberia as well as the right to leave or enter the country at 
will.  Freedom of movement in and out of Monrovia was generally 
respected by IGNU, though ECOMOG and AFL checkpoints impeded 
the movement of relief workers and supplies.

Freedom of movement, ranging from resettlement of displaced 
persons to ordinary commerce and travel, was inhibited by 
factional fighting in the first half of 1993.  Throughout the 
year, NPFL and ULIMO forces impeded movement by extorting and 
harassing citizens at checkpoints.  The NPFL prohibited 
thousands of displaced persons from traveling to seek refuge 
behind ECOMOG lines.

Over 700,000 Liberian refugees remained in neighboring West 
African countries, many out of fear of ethnic persecution.  The 
number of refugees increased and decreased depending on the 
intensity and proximity of the fighting to population centers 
in Liberia.  The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported 
that as many as 30,000 Liberian refugees may have returned 
spontaneously in 1993.  Most of these returnees went to 
Monrovia, where they were well received and were provided 
assistance by a network consisting of the U.N. agencies, IGNU, 
and international and domestic nongovernmental relief groups.

There are approximately 100,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in 
Liberia.  Although many Sierra Leoneans were mistreated by the 
NPFL and ULIMO, there were no reports of such refugees being 
forced to leave Liberia.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens
           to Change Their Government

Despite constitutional and statutory guarantees of free and 
fair elections, Liberians could not exercise the right to 
change their government.  As fighting continued the first half 
of the year, there was again intense activity in the search for 
new political formulas to restore unity under a popularly 
elected leadership.  Under joint U.N., OAU, and ECOWAS 
auspices, leaders of IGNU, the NPFL, and ULIMO hammered out a 
peace accord in late July after negotiations in Geneva and 
Cotonou, Benin.  The agreement called for demobilization of the 
warring factions and the institution of a unified transitional 
government to organize elections for February-March 1994.  
Pursuant to the accord, the rival IGNU, NPRAG, and ULIMO 
administrations would dissolve as rival administrations upon 
the installation of the transitional government.  The peace 
accord was welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Liberians.  
Its implementation, however, lagged behind schedule at year's 
end because of lack of agreement among the factions about the 
timetable for disarmament, demobilization, and the seating of 
the transitional government, and because of delays in the 
arrival of the additional ECOMOG forces needed to help 
accomplish these objectives.

IGNU is a coalition government comprised of the major prewar 
political parties and interest groups.  Power in IGNU mainly 
resides in the executive branch, led by President Amos Sawyer, 
not in the legislature or the judiciary.  NPRAG also has three 
separate branches of government.  But unlike the 
coalition-based IGNU, Charles Taylor remained the NPRAG's 
supreme leader.  Unlike IGNU and NPRAG, ULIMO did not establish 
formal legislative, executive, or judiciary structures in its 
area.  Decisions are made by senior level ULIMO political and 
military officials, with ULIMO leader Alhaji Kromah the primary 

Neither the legislature in Monrovia nor that in Gbarnga was 
truly representative.  However, the interim legislature in 
Monrovia at times asserted its role as a separate branch of 
government, both confirming and rejecting important IGNU 
appointees following public confirmation hearings.

There are no restrictions in law on the participation of women 
in politics; but, in practice, only a few women hold 
Cabinet-level positions in the IGNU and NPRAG governments, none 
in significant decisionmaking positions.  Overall numbers of 
women in the two governments and the various political parties 
are small.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
           of Human Rights

The few domestic human rights organizations are relatively new 
and underfunded but made progress improving their influence, 
visibility, and performance in 1993.  Two groups occasionally 
published newspapers dedicated to human rights.  None of the 
organizations reported any major IGNU interference with their 
activities, although IGNU authorities sometimes criticized the 
organizations, and, in the case of The Center for Human Rights 
Education, prevented its members from monitoring conditions at 
Monrovia's Central Prison.

The attitude of NPRAG toward the human rights organizations was 
less clearly enunciated, and its conduct to date has not been 
encouraging.  Some Monrovia-based activists feared for their 
personal safety, claiming that the NPFL had previously accused 
them of being IGNU agents.  There was one human rights 
organization based in NPFL territory, but it did not appear to 
be active or effective.  ULIMO officials insisted on monitoring 
the activities of human rights groups visiting its area.

In August a three-member U.N. team visited Liberia to 
investigate the June 6 Harbel massacre of over 500 innocent 
displaced persons.  Both NPFL and IGNU officials cooperated 
with the panel.  There were no apparent signs of interference 
with the panel's work, though IGNU publicly criticized the 
panel's September report, which concluded that the AFL 
perpetrated the atrocity.  A representative of the U.S. human 
rights monitoring organization Africa Watch visited Liberia 
early in the year and did not experience interference by IGNU 
authorities in Monrovia.  However, ULIMO refused to allow the 
Africa Watch representative to visit its area without an ULIMO 

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The 1985 Constitution prohibits discrimination based on ethnic 
background, race, sex, creed, place of origin, or political 
opinion, but discrimination exists de facto and in some cases 
de jure.


The status of women in Liberian society varies by region, 
ethnic group, and religion.  Some women currently hold skilled 
jobs, including in government and business.  In the past 2 
years, several women's organizations were established in 
Monrovia and Gbarnga to advance family welfare issues, to help 
promote political reconciliation, and to assist in 
rehabilitating former combatants as well as civilian victims of 
war.  In urban areas and along the coast, women can inherit 
land and property.  In rural areas, where traditional customs 
are stronger, a woman is normally considered the property of 
her husband and his clan and usually is not entitled to inherit 
from her husband.

Women in most rural areas are responsible for much of the farm 
labor and have only limited access to education.  According to 
a recent U.N. study, females in Liberia, on average, receive 
only about 28 percent of the schooling given to males.  In the 
massive violence inflicted on civilians during the conflict, 
women suffered the gamut of abuses (see especially Sections 
1.c. and 1.g.).  Even prior to the war, domestic violence 
against women was extensive but never seriously addressed as an 
issue by the Government, women's groups, the courts, or the 


In the civil war, the various sides have given almost no 
attention to the welfare of children, and the education and 
nurturing of children has been seriously disrupted.  The NPFL 
and ULIMO recruited and employed children as combatants.  As a 
result, children have become both victims and abusers in the 
conflict.  Some NGO's have initiated small retraining and 
rehabilitation programs for a limited number of former child 
fighters.  At year's end, the United Nations and NGO's were 
discussing plans within the overall peace process for special 
counseling and training of the bulk of young combatants once 
they demobilize (see also Sections 1.g. and 6.d.).

Female genital mutilation (circumcision), which international 
health experts have condemned as physically and psychologically 
damaging, is widely practiced at an early age, particularly in 
isolated rural areas and among traditional societies.  
According to an independent expert in the field, the percentage 
of Liberian females who have undergone this procedure may be as 
high as 60 percent.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Although the Constitution bans ethnic discrimination, it also 
provides that only "persons who are negroes or of negro 
descent" may be citizens or own land, thus denying full rights 
to many who were born or lived most of their lives in Liberia.  
Neither Monrovia's Interim Government nor Gbarnga's NPRAG has 
considered repealing this racial test.  In July IGNU reaffirmed 
a 1975 economic "Liberianization" law, which prohibited foreign 
ownership in certain business sectors.  The law resulted in the 
closure or sale of several foreign-owned businesses.

The roots of the civil conflict can be found in the historical 
division between the Americo-Liberian minority, who for over 
150 years dominated the political, economic, and cultural life 
of the country, and the indigenous ethnic groups.  The latter 
frequently complained of government discrimination in many 
areas, such as access to education and civil service jobs and 
to infrastructure development.

The 1980 coup mounted by Sergeant Doe and other AFL 
noncommissioned officers was seen by some as a revolution, with 
indigenous groups taking power from the Americo-Liberian 
elite.  However, Doe's authoritarian military-based regime 
progressively exacerbated ethnic tensions while subverting the 
democratic reforms embodied in the 1985 Constitution.

During the Doe regime, resentment grew over domination of 
government by Doe's ethnic group, the Krahns.  At the height of 
the civil war, an individual's language was used to identify 
that person's ethnicity.  Those from groups considered hostile 
often were summarily executed.  The cease-fire in late 1990 
stopped many of these abuses.  However, the NPFL reprisals 
against Krahns, particularly in Grand Gedeh County, and against 
Mandingos throughout NPFL territory continued to occur.  
Harassment of rival ethnic groups by predominately Krahn AFL 
troops in Monrovia and Krahn and Mandingo ULIMO fighters 
continued during the year (see Section 1.g.).

     Religious Minorities

While religious discrimination is legally prohibited, there 
were claims of discrimination in practice.  Muslims, who 
represent a sizable portion of the population, asserted they 
were subjected to discrimination during the year.  Alleged 
mistreatment ranged from unequal access to official radio 
stations for religious programs to bias in government 
employment practices.  On the other hand, many residents in 
ULIMO areas complained that ULIMO officials discriminated 
against non-Muslims by exacting higher checkpoint tariffs and 
business fees.  Muslim representation in senior positions in 
both IGNU and NPRAG was disproportionately low.  Muslims also 
asserted that equal sanction and acknowledgment was not 
conferred on Islamic holidays and practices as on Christian 

     People with Disabilities

The protracted civil war has produced a large number of persons 
with permanent injuries in addition to persons disabled from 
other causes.  There was no de jure discrimination against the 
disabled.  However, in practice the disabled did not enjoy 
equal access to education, employment, and already scant social 
services.  Cultural norms also adversely affected attitudes 
toward the disabled population.  None of the rival 
administrations places a high priority on care for the 
disabled, and there are no accessibility laws on the books.  
Some NGO and U.N. programs in Monrovia were dedicated to 
rehabilitating and assisting war-wounded and otherwise disabled 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution states that workers have the right to 
associate in trade unions.  The Constitution also states that 
unions are prohibited from partisan political activity, and 
this restriction has been observed in practice.  Government 
interference in union activities, especially elections and 
leadership conflicts, was commonplace before the war.  Over 20 
trade unions, representing about 15 percent of the wage-earning 
work force, were registered with the Ministry of Labor before 
1989.  Approximately 10 national unions were members of the 
Liberian Federation of Labor Unions (LFLU).  However, the 
actual power the unions exercised was always slight.

Like virtually all other organized activity in the country, 
unions disappeared during the height of the 1989-90 war.  As 
some large-scale operations involving rubber and other 
extractive industries began operating in NPFL areas in 1991 and 
1992, union activity associated with these industries resumed.  
Economic sanctions and renewed fighting after October 1992 
stopped these operations and associated union activity in NPFL 
territory, but with the signing of the July peace accord, many 
industries planned to resume and affected unions began 
reorganizing and attempting to locate members.  In Monrovia 
union activity focused on internal leadership questions, 
internal financing, and locating suitable employment for 
members.  One of the most active organizations was the Ship 
Workers' Union, which urged the Interim Government to pressure 
Liberian flag vessels to employ more Liberian workers.  
However, contending with an 80-percent unemployment rate in 
Monrovia, this and other unions faced an uphill struggle.  

Liberia's status as a beneficiary of trade preferences under 
the United States' Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) 
program was suspended in 1990 as a result of the Doe 
government's failure to take steps to provide internationally 
recognized worker rights.  For example, the Doe regime did not 
recognize the right of civil servants or employees of public 
corporations to unionize or strike.  During 1993, attempts 
languished in the IGNU legislature to enact an amended labor 
code removing the prohibition against unionization of 
government workers.

The 1985 Constitution is silent on the right to strike.  While 
the labor practices laws of Liberia do protect this right, the 
Doe government issued a decree in 1980 prohibiting strikes.  
Neither IGNU nor NPRAG officially repealed or affirmed the 
no-strike decree, but it was not challenged in 1993 as there 
were no significant strikes.  During the year, neither IGNU nor 
NPRAG took any discriminatory actions against organized labor.

Labor unions traditionally were affiliated with international 
labor groups before the war, and unions attempted to restore 
many of these ties in 1993.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

With the important exception of civil servants, workers 
(including employees of public corporations and autonomous 
agencies) have the right to organize and bargain collectively.  
However, in 1993 these rights were significantly constrained by 
the institutional breakdown of unions caused by the war and the 
low level of economic activity.  With high unemployment and 
dismissals being fundamental concerns, several unions 
negotiated with employers severance payments for union 
members.  Generally, wage and severance pay agreements are 
negotiated freely between labor and their employers without 
government interference, but with occasional input from the 
IGNU or the NPRAG Ministries of Labor.

Although the interim legislature deliberated over the merits of 
a revised labor code, neither the Interim Government nor NPRAG 
took steps to correct flaws highlighted by the 1990 report of 
the International Labor Organization (ILO).  That report stated 
that existing labor laws failed to provide workers adequate 
protection against discrimination and reprisals for union 
activity, failed to protect workers' organizations against 
outside interference, and did not give eligible workers in the 
public sector the opportunity to bargain collectively.

Labor laws have the same force in Liberia's one export 
processing zone as in the rest of the country.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, but even before the 
civil war this prohibition was widely ignored in rural areas 
where farmers were pressured into providing free labor on 
"community projects" which often benefited only local leaders.  
Forced labor was used by some or all of the warring factions 
during the civil war, especially for moving equipment and 
supplies.  This practice persisted in 1993.  NPFL forced labor 
camps and farms in Grand Gedeh County were not reported to have 
closed.  According to several sources, the NPFL reportedly used 
forced labor in western Liberia to move supplies in the wake of 
clashes with ULIMO.  When it captured portions of Lofa and Bong 
Counties, ULIMO reportedly forced inhabitants to carry property 
that had been confiscated as spoils of war.  The AFL also 
forced civilians to carry its stolen goods.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Under the Doe government, the law prohibited employment of 
children under age 16 during school hours in the wage sector.  
Enforcement by the Ministry of Labor, however, was limited.  
Even before the civil war, small children continued to assist 
their parents as vendors in local markets and on family 
subsistence farms.  This practice persisted in 1993, 
particularly in those areas where schools had been closed 
because of the war.  During the conflict, the NPFL recruited 
young children as soldiers; many of them had been orphaned, and 
some were less than 12 years of age.  Many of these children, 
especially in the NPFL, remained under arms in 1993.  (Indeed, 
the NPFL has a unit named the "small boys unit.")

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The labor law provides for a minimum wage, paid leave, 
severance benefits, and safety standards.  Before the economy 
collapsed, the legal minimum wage varied according to 
profession but did not generally provide a decent standard of 
living for a worker and family.  (The minimum wage for 
agricultural workers was approximately 90 cents per day, with 
industrial workers receiving three or four times that amount.)  
Often workers were forced to supplement their incomes through 
other activities to maintain a minimal standard of living.  
Most turned to subsistence farming.  The minimum wage was not 
always been enforced adequately by the Labor Ministry.

The Liberian Labor Code provides for a 48-hour, 6-day regular 
workweek with a 30 minute rest period per 5 hours of work.  The 
6-day workweek may extend to 56 hours for service occupations 
and to 72 hours for miners, with overtime pay beyond 48 hours.  
In view of the low level of economic activity during 1993, most 
employers ignored these various regulations, and there was very 
little attempt at enforcement in Monrovia or in NPFL territory.

Prior to 1990, there also had been government-established 
health and safety standards, enforced in theory by the Ministry 
of Labor.  Workers did not have a specifically protected right 
to remove themselves from dangerous work situations.

[end of document]


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