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TITLE:  LIBERIA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            LIBERIA


In 1994 Liberia remained a country increasingly divided 
factionally and geographically, even though warring factions 
did conclude an agreement in late December on ending the 
country's civil war.  The Liberian National Transitional 
Government (LNTG) was seated after much delay in March as the 
successor to the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), 
which along with the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) 
and the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia 
(ULIMO) signed the July 1993 Cotonou Peace Agreement under the 
aegis of the Economic Community of West African States 
(ECOWAS), the United Nations, and the Organization of African 
Unity.  The Cotonou Accord did not, however, resolve the basic 
factional differences over political power or lead to the 
projected demobilization of the warring factions, or to planned 
free elections.  In fact, the three groups that signed the 
Accord mushroomed to seven competing political-military groups 
which renewed factional fighting, thereby preventing the LNTG 
from extending its authority outside greater Monrovia and the 
corridor to Buchanan (see Sections 1.g. and 3).  Throughout 
much of the year, the shifting factional military action served 
to keep Charles Taylor's NPFL forces, which almost captured 
Monrovia in late 1992, on the defensive.

In the confusing Liberian mosaic of political/military forces, 
an eighth group, composed of civilian political parties and 
other interest groups, convened a National Conference in August 
to pressure the armed factions to disarm and implement other 
Cotonou Accord provisions.  The Conference strongly opposed a 
new agreement reached on September 12 in Akosombo, Ghana, by 
the Cotonou signatories, including the Armed Forces of Liberia 
(AFL) replacing the dissolved IGNU, under the auspices of 
ECOWAS Chairman Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings.  The 
Conference participants insisted that the new accord 
excessively favored warring-faction interests.  While fighting 
raged in Liberia between followers of the faction leaders 
meeting in Ghana, Rawlings continued to consult with the 
various Liberian parties, including the National Conference.  
Their leaders signed the Akosombo Clarification Agreement 
(three parties) and the Agreement of Acceptance and Accession 
(five parties, including the National Conference) on December 
21 in Accra.  The Accra Accords provided for a cease-fire on 
December 28 and established a 5-member ruling council to be 
inaugurated in early 1995 to govern the country, including 
conduct the November 1995 elections, until an elected 
government takes over in January 1996.

The key military force supporting the LNTG remained the ECOWAS 
Cease-Fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG).  At year's end, ECOMOG 
was composed of 6,000-8,000 troops--down from 12,000 in 
July--from six West African and two East African countries, 
although over half of the force was Nigerian.  Initially a 
peacekeeping force, ECOMOG increasingly became the interim 
Government's de facto army and, in addition, assumed many 
police powers within the Monrovia perimeter.  ECOMOG was 
effective in its military role in maintaining relative calm 
within the Monrovia-Buchanan perimeter and for promptly putting 
down a September 15 coup attempt by a general from the Armed 
Forces of Liberia (AFL), who deserted in 1990, and dissident 
AFL supporters.  Some ECOMOG soldiers have, however, also 
earned an unenviable reputation for a variety of illegal 
activities.  ECOMOG reassigned several officers who were 
believed by outside observers to be engaged in activities 
detrimental to the peace process.  Despite continuing criticism 
of ECOMOG behavior by human rights monitors, the majority of 
ECOMOG forces conducted themselves well during the year.

The civil war-ravaged economy, previously based primarily on 
iron ore, rubber, timber, diamond, and gold exports, remained 
stagnant.  Continued disruption of economic activity, 80 to 90 
percent unemployment across all sectors except government, 
massive displacements of civilians, wanton destruction, and 
looting have all devastated the productive capacity of Liberia 
despite its rich natural endowments and potential 
self-sufficiency in agriculture.  Massive emergency operations 
by the United Nations, as well as by American and other 
Western-based relief agencies and nongovernmental organizations 
(NGO's) continued throughout the year in ECOMOG-controlled 
areas.  However, they were periodically suspended in other 
parts of the country because of fighting, harassment, and 
detention of relief personnel; looting of relief agency 
supplies and vehicles; and occasional seemingly arbitrary 
security restrictions imposed by ECOMOG.

The number of human rights abuses unquestionably rose with the 
increased level of conflict across the country, including the 
massacre of over 65 civilians by inconclusively identified 
attackers in a Monrovia suburb on December 15.  There were many 
credible charges that all factions flagrantly disregarded 
fundamental humanitarian values.  Human rights monitors also 
criticized ECOMOG for incidents of human rights abuse.  Since 
1989, when Liberia's population was recorded at 2.4 million, an 
estimated 300,000 persons, most of them civilians, have been 
killed or wounded as a result of the conflict, and close to 
800,000 have taken refuge in neighboring countries.  An 
estimated 1.1 million people have been displaced within Liberia 
since the war began.  Approximately 130,000 Sierra Leonean 
refugees were also displaced repeatedly throughout the year, 
some landing finally within the safe haven of Monrovia.  In all 
combat arenas, fleeing displaced persons reported villages 
looted and burned; use of excessive force; arbitrary 
detentions; impressment, particularly of children under the age 
of 18 into the NPFL and ULIMO-Mandingo forces; torture; 
individual and gang rape; summary executions; mutilations and 
cannibalism.  In the absence of progress on disarmament and 
demobilization, the U.N. Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) 
began drawing down its 443-member staff in August.  The 
fighting and looting became so ferocious in September that all 
humanitarian assistance outside the Tubmanburg-Monrovia- 
Buchanan perimeter was halted, although several NGO's resumed 
modest food deliveries into the interior in November and 
December.  No progress was made in resolving outstanding 
incidents of past human rights abuses.

Although obeisance was paid to the 1985 Constitution, the Penal 
Code, and the Labor Code, because of the violent conditions 
obtaining up country and the overcrowding and destitute 
conditions for a large percentage of people living in and near 
Monrovia, the rights provided by these documents were largely 
moot.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Indiscriminate killings increased sharply from the previous 
year.  Although professing adherence to the rule of law, the 
leaders of the warring factions condoned and, in some 
instances, seemingly encouraged the murderous savagery that 
affected the civilian population more than the combatants (see 
Section 1.g.).  Despite claims to be the national army, the AFL 
acted as a warring faction, and AFL troops frequently engaged 
in a variety of human rights abuses, including alleged 
extrajudicial killings.

Individual ECOMOG soldiers, serving a dual role as peacekeepers 
and peace enforcers, committed several extrajudicial killings, 
such as the shooting death of a university professor on 
November 1 for running a checkpoint.  The soldier was awaiting 
trial at year's end.  In another case, ECOMOG court-martialed a 
soldier for killing a civilian and reportedly executed him.  In 
contrast to the leaders of the warring factions, the ECOMOG 
high command was committed to bringing soldiers involved in 
crimes against civilians to justice.  There were no reports of 
ECOMOG soldiers committing political killings.

On March 21, a Turkish citizen convicted of murder reportedly 
died of starvation in the Monrovia central prison.  There was a 
cursory investigation undertaken by the LNTG's National 
Security Agency, but the authorities took no action to punish 
those responsible for the prisoner's death.  Inmates credibly 
accused the guards of stealing the food provided for prisoners.

In the many killings committed by the warring factions, it was 
often impossible to sort out whether they were politically 
motivated or driven by tribal hatred.  However, the savage 
killing of a judge of Lofa County in January by the 
ULIMO-Mandingo faction appeared to have clear political intent 
(see Section 1.g.).  There were also unconfirmed but credible 
reports of Muslim ULIMO-Mandingo fighters executing civilians 
in Lofa County for religious and ethnic reasons (see Section 5).

There were no reports that factions punished fighters for 
politically motivated killings, but combatants of all factions 
were routinely executed for offenses in the eyes of their 
commanders, as in the case of Nixon Gaye, field commander of 
the largest NPFL unit.  He was shot August 27 in his reported 
mutiny attempt against Charles Taylor and died of his injuries 
along with an unreported number of his supporters.  Dissident 
NPFL cabinet ministers claimed Gaye was tortured to death after 
being wounded.  Charles Taylor admitted on December 23 ordering 
the executions of several of his senior military commanders 
because of alleged connivance in the September loss of Gbarnga.

     b.  Disappearance

In the area under LNTG/ECOMOG control, there were no known 
disappearances.  NPFL and ULIMO-Mandingo forces were 
responsible for many unexplained disappearances, notably by 
impressment of children (see Sections 5 and 6.d.).  Many 
families remained divided among those living in Monrovia, those 
located in other parts of Liberia, and those who fled the 
country and have not yet returned.  The International Committee 
of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a family tracing program but, 
because of the inaccessibility of major sectors of the country 
throughout the year, located only a small percentage of the 
missing persons brought to its attention.  In the wake of 
fighting in Bong and Maryland counties in September and 
October, a new wave of approximately 200,000 refugees flooded 
into Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire.  Many of these refugees were 
unable to contact family members.

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

While the 1985 Constitution prohibits torture and other 
degrading treatment, inhuman treatment continued to be 
frequent.  In the greater Monrovia area under ECOMOG control, 
with a better educated populace, a freer press, the presence of 
national and international human rights and humanitarian aid 
groups, there were fewer reports of torture than in the past 
(see Section 1.d.).  Although the Supreme Court ruled that 
"trial by ordeal" or "sassywood"--commonly, the placement of a 
hot metal object on a suspect's body to induce confession in a 
criminal investigation--is unconstitutional, the Ministry of 
Internal Affairs continued to employ licensed agents who 
subjected suspects to this practice.  A leading Monrovia-based 
human rights group brought suit in March seeking compensatory 
damages for injuries sustained by victims of the continuing 
practice of sassywood.  Tribal courts, which use this 
traditional mode of justice, did not function because of the 
disruptions of the civil war.

Eyewitnesses report that ECOMOG soldiers beat and humiliated 
persons at ECOMOG checkpoints in Monrovia, often for curfew 
violations.  After ECOMOG detained prominent businessman and 
Unity Party stalwart Peter Bonner Jallah in November 1992 for 
allegedly abetting the NPFL surprise attack against Monrovia, 
it released him in May.  Jallah credibly claimed that ECOMOG 
and the preceding government's intelligence officers had beaten 
him in the head with a gun butt, administered electrical 
charges to his body, burned him about the genitals with 
gasoline, and handcuffed him so tightly that he now suffers 
nerve damage in his hands (see Section 1.d.).

NPFL fighters stripped, beat, and tortured civilians at 
numerous highway checkpoints in NPFL areas, usually in 
connection with extortion or other forms of intimidation.  The 
NPFL reportedly detained and tortured two traditional chiefs 
who went to NPFL headquarters in Gbarnga in August to convince 
Charles Taylor to send representatives to the National 
Conference in Monrovia.

Roving bands of ULIMO-Krahn and ULIMO-Mandingo fighters raided 
villages in Cape Mount and Bomi counties, pillaging, beating, 
raping, and murdering civilians as they went.  There are 
similar documented reports of primarily Liberian Peace Council 
(LPC) depredations in the southeastern counties.  On June 28, 
ULIMO-Krahn fighters attacked the UNOMIL regional headquarters 
in Tubmanburg, beat and tortured six U.N. observers, and 
completely looted the headquarters.

All warring factions regularly committed various forms of 
torture and mistreatment of civilians, including individual and 
gang rape and other violence against women.

Conditions in government jails continued to be 
life-threatening.  Officials frequently denied prisoners 
medical care, family contacts, and adequate food; cells 
remained small, crowded, and filthy.  Female prisoners were 
held in separate cells in the central prison, but there were no 
separate facilities for juvenile offenders.  In 1994, however, 
the LNTG and ECOMOG regularly granted human rights groups 
access to prisoners in Monrovia, and these groups frequently 
obtained needed medical treatment for their clients.  In a 
number of cases, the pro bono work of human rights groups and 
interested individuals resulted in the release of prisoners, 
especially those whose cases were pending "further examination."

The conditions of detention outside Monrovia were even worse.  
When detained, prisoners were held in makeshift, substandard 
facilities and subjected to various forms of mistreatment, both 
physical and psychological--including beatings, rape, and 
threatened executions.  More often, however, displaced persons 
reported that "authorities" either let prisoners go or shot 
them on the spot.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The 1985 Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and provides 
for the rights of the accused, including warrants for arrests 
and the right of detainees either to be charged or released 
within 48 hours.  In practice, police officers often 
disregarded these rights and made arbitrary arrests.  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.  The LNTG Ministry of Justice moved to protect 
citizens' rights by issuing new procedural guidelines to the 
Bureau of Corrections, limiting the persons authorized to 
commit suspects to jail, and filing writs of dismissal for 
detainees who were not processed correctly.

ECOMOG soldiers played the major role in policing the greater 
Monrovia area, and citizens continued to turn to ECOMOG 
soldiers rather than the unarmed police force to arrest and 
detain alleged criminals.  Detentions by ECOMOG peacekeepers 
frequently did not satisfy internationally recognized 
standards, and there were unconfirmed reports that ECOMOG 
coerced confessions from suspects.  ECOMOG did, however, 
regularly allow NGO's access to prisoners in its various 
detention centers.  As a result of politician Peter Bonner 
Jallah's 18-month detention without charge, the Center for Law 
and Human Rights Education filed a writ with the Supreme Court 
calling for a definition of ECOMOG's arrest and detention 
powers.  In its controversial September decision, the Supreme 
Court stated that ECOMOG "as a peacekeeping force has no legal 
right to arrest and detain any citizen."  Toward year's end, 
ECOMOG and various Liberian security and law enforcement 
agencies established a "joint task force" intended to 
appropriately apportion responsibilities and overall security 
duties.

Although the AFL claims to be the national army, 
ill-disciplined AFL troops frequently committed some of the 
most serious human rights abuses (see Sections 1.a. and 1.g.).  
For example, on June 24, AFL soldiers entered the UNOMIL 
Demobilization Center at Schiefflin and detained the staff for 
3 days after which they looted the Center.  On September 15, 
under the direction of a U.S.-domiciled former AFL general, 
some AFL soldiers attempted a coup against the Government, 
seizing the executive mansion.  ECOMOG forces swiftly put down 
the attempted coup and captured leader Charles Julue, 78 AFL 
supporters, and 5 civilians.  After a 3-week probe, ECOMOG 
released 40 soldiers and detained 38 for court-martial.  It 
turned the five civilians over to the civilian judiciary.  The 
trial of the five began on October 14 but was suspended as of 
year's end because of procedural and security issues.  The AFL 
court-martial of Julue, three other generals, and others began 
on November 16 but suffered repeated delays due to security 
concerns caused by dissident AFL soldiers.

While accurate arrest information was unavailable, charged and 
uncharged pretrial detainees in the Monrovia area formed a 
sizable portion of the total incarcerated population.  Human 
rights groups reported that approximately one-third to one-half 
of the prisoners (average 75) at any given moment at the 
Monrovia central prison compound had not been tried.  Modest 
reforms within the court system, such as limiting the time 
frame for argument, reduced somewhat the backlog of judicial 
cases.  Except for the September coup suspects, there were no 
known political/security detainees in the Monrovia area under 
LNTG jurisdiction, but it was impossible to determine the 
number of such detainees elsewhere in the country.

On April 5, ECOMOG released 800 NPFL fighters who had been held 
for over a year following their capture during the NPFL's 
October 1992 "Operation Octopus" attack on Monrovia.  UNOMIL, 
which had been charged under the 1993 Cotonou Peace Accord with 
supervising a demobilization program, included the 800 in its 
initial demobilization figure of 3,500.

The NPFL committed repeated arbitrary detentions in its 
territory where martial law has been in effect since the war 
began.  NPFL fighters had almost unbridled power to make 
arrests without warrants.  They exercised that power often and 
capriciously, detaining persons, including U.N. military 
observers, on spurious grounds or without charge for periods 
ranging from several hours to several weeks, as in the case in 
May of an AFL colonel held for 1 month.  The NPFL held 350 
orphans, whom the NPFL abducted from Fatimah Cottage in October 
1992, at Cuttington University College until the fighting 
reached Gbarnga in September.  At the height of the fighting, 
the children fled, with most of them joining the 150,000 
displaced persons still held by the NPFL at year's end near 
Totota.  UNOMIL was able to evacuate 58 of the orphans by 
helicopter before the security situation made flights 
impossible.

There were no reports of Liberians being subjected to forced 
political exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The court structure is divided into four levels with the 
Supreme Court at its apex.  Under the 1985 Constitution, 
defendants have the due process rights conforming to 
internationally accepted norms of fair trial.  Most of these 
rights, however, were ignored in practice.

By 1994 all levels of the court system, which had been 
devastated by the years of civil war, were functioning in 
Monrovia, although erratically.  While corruption and 
incompetent handling of cases remained a recurrent problem, 
some progress was made in addressing problems in the judiciary, 
including requiring that circuit court judges be law school 
graduates.  The 1994 LNTG budget included the judiciary for the 
first time in 4 years, which resulted in judges being given 
office facilities and vehicles.  The Supreme Court, composed of 
justices nominated by the warring factions, continued to 
operate.

In addition to the resurrection of the modern court system, 
customary law was also applied in Monrovia.  The Ministry of 
Internal Affairs subjected persons accused of occult practices 
and other crimes to "trial by ordeal," submitting defendants to 
physical pain to adjudicate guilt or innocence (see Section 
1.c.).

In the case of two AFL soldiers whom a military court found 
guilty of murder, a leading human rights organization on their 
behalf appealed the death sentence to the Supreme Court.  The 
AFL, claiming no appeal was permitted from a court-martial 
judgment, initially threatened to execute the prisoners but 
subsequently delayed action after the Supreme Court issued a 
restraining order.  By year's end, the Ministry of Defense had 
not constituted an appeal board.

Although in 1991 the NPFL also partially reactivated the court 
system in areas under its control, legal and judicial 
protections have been almost totally lacking since then.  In 
the areas controlled by the other factions, there was little 
pretense of due process; swift judgment was meted out by the 
faction leaders.  Given the continuing war, it was not possible 
to determine the total number of political/security detainees 
(see Section 1.d.) or political prisoners among the prisoners 
held by the factions.

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

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 the 
police and fighters of all the warring factions.  According to 
the Constitution, the police must have a warrant or a 
reasonable belief that a crime is in progress, or is about to 
be committed, before entering a private dwelling.  In practice, 
the police engaged in forced entry without a warrant to carry 
out arrests and investigations.

Combatants of all the warring factions looted villages during 
the year, with ULIMO-Krahn and ULIMO-Mandingo factions in Bomi 
and Cape Mount counties and LPC and NPFL fighters in 
southeastern counties and elsewhere drawing considerable public 
outrage.  These forces pilfered virtually any item of value and 
regularly demanded scarce food and personal valuables from 
already impoverished residents or displaced persons, often 
robbing them of their clothes and physically abusing them, 
particularly at checkpoints.  Confiscation of private homes and 
vehicles was common practice.

These factions also used forced entry for purposes of 
intimidation.  For example, AFL soldiers made two raids on the 
Monrovia residence of a legislative representative to harass 
the representative for his support of the new police director.  
In one instance, an AFL soldier shot the representative's guard 
in the leg.  The representative sent a formal letter to the 
Transitional Legislative Assembly accusing four members of the 
AFL high command of attempted murder.

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

In 1994 the warring factions inflicted considerably more harm 
on noncombatants than on each other.  All factions 
indiscriminately ransacked villages and confiscated scant food 
supplies.  They deliberately targeted, tortured, and murdered 
innocent civilians and regularly committed violence against 
women, children, and the elderly.

The number and complexity of warring forces increased in 1994.  
In addition to Charles Taylor's NPFL in the central counties, 
the anti-NPFL ULIMO split in March into its two ethnic 
components, the ULIMO-Mandingo faction and the ULIMO-Krahn 
faction.  While there was intra-ULIMO fighting in the western 
counties, both ULIMO wings joined other groups, including the 
AFL, in fighting NPFL-Taylor forces in central Liberia.  Made 
up of remnants of late President Samuel Doe's army, the AFL 
controlled pockets of terrain along the road to Buchanan and a 
few areas in and around the Firestone Plantation.  The LPC, a 
predominantly Krahn group drawing major support from active and 
former AFL combatants, emerged in late 1993 and made serious 
inroads in 1994 against the NPFL in the south and eastern 
coastal region.  Krahn ethnic loyalties closely linked the 
ULIMO-Krahn, the AFL, and the LPC.  The Lofa Defense Force 
(LDF) provided sporadic challenge to ULIMO-Mandingo control of 
the northwest.

The NPFL also suffered a schism.  In August a trio of dissident 
NPFL ministers, who took their LNTG cabinet seats in April, 
declared Charles Taylor unseated as Chairman of the NPFL's 
Central Revolutionary Committee.  They joined other splinter 
groups in an anti-Taylor coalition which participated with 
ULIMO-Mandingo forces in a successful September attack on 
Taylor's Gbarnga headquarters which he reoccupied in December 
(see Section 1.a.).

There were many incidents throughout the year in which 
civilians died.  On June 9, LDF fighters reportedly massacred 
or summarily shot 75 civilians at Russie village near Zorzor in 
Lofa county.  On June 22, ULIMO-Mandingos massacred nine 
civilians, including women and children, in Brewerville, 
Montserrado county.  Witnesses confirmed that ULIMO troops 
questioned the victims about their tribal backgrounds and then 
killed or tortured them and threw their bodies into a well.  In 
late August, ULIMO-Krahn fighters massacred between 20 and 30 
persons in Gbesseh town, Cape Mount county.  In September there 
were numerous reports of a "massacre" by ULIMO-Mandingo 
fighters who attacked Phebe Hospital near Gbarnga, looting it 
and killing an unknown number of civilians, including several 
Phebe staff members.  Subsequently, NPFL leader Charles Taylor 
implied the killings of civilians at Phebe had been committed 
by members of the NPFL.  In mid-December, fighters of 
undetermined affiliation attacked the Paynesville suburb of 
Monrovia, shooting, hacking, and burning 66 civilians to death.

Credible reports indicated that NPFL, ULIMO-Krahn, 
ULIMO-Mandingo, and LPC fighters committed acts of 
cannibalism.  In some instances, the fighters ate specific 
organs in the belief that it would make the fighter stronger.  
Human rights groups estimated that 3 to 6 percent of combatants 
participated.  Displaced persons reported seeing severed 
extremities and extracted body parts, such as the heart of a 
Lofa county judge displayed in the streets of Voinjama after he 
was murdered by ULIMO-Mandingo forces.  Often, it was 
impossible to know where the victim came from or what had 
happened; on September 21, a diplomat came upon an 
unidentified, naked and tortured corpse (pieces of rope on the 
deceased's wrist) along the main road through a Monrovia suburb.

The NPFL took credit for mining the Bong Mine-Kakata Road, the 
feeder roads to the Monrovia-Buchanan Highway, and threatened 
to mine the Totota-Kakata Highway if anyone attempted to save 
the 150,000 displaced persons in Totota.  Three mine explosions 
elsewhere killed several civilians and two ECOMOG soldiers.

Relief organizations estimated that 1.1 million persons have 
been internally displaced since the war began.  Most of these 
are dependent on humanitarian aid for survival.  Upper Lofa 
county, for instance, where a $1 million staging base in Vahun 
had been gutted by ULIMO brigands in December 1993, remained 
bereft of relief operations throughout the year because the 
security situation was too unstable to allow relief workers to 
return.  Fierce fighting in other sectors of the country 
hampered humanitarian work.  Faction leaders and their 
followers, suspicious of the possible supply of aid to the 
enemy, often refused to allow international and humanitarian 
relief agencies access beyond their checkpoints to distribute 
food and supplies.  U.N. and relief agencies reported 
continuous harassment and detention of their staffs, 
confiscation of vehicles, and looting of foodstuffs, medical 
supplies, and gasoline.

In September interfactional warfare erupted in central Liberia 
with such renewed brutality that over 200,000 Liberians fled 
their homes, some to the bush and others into Guinea and the 
Ivory Coast.  U.N. agencies and NGO's withdrew their up-country 
staffs after the NPFL took 43 U.N. observers hostage in various 
sectors of NPFL territory and after millions of dollars of U.N. 
and humanitarian assistance supplies and equipment had been 
stolen.  Assistance outside the Monrovia and Buchanan areas 
ground to a halt in September but resumed to a few locations at 
greatly reduced levels late in the year.

Various factions attacked ECOMOG peacekeeping forces throughout 
the year and on a number of occasions took ECOMOG soldiers 
hostage.  At least eight ECOMOG soldiers lost their lives, and 
many were wounded.  Similarly, the warring factions detained 
UNOMIL staff members and at times tortured them.

ECOMOG soldiers also inflicted suffering on the civilian 
population.  Individual soldiers committed a number of serious 
illegal activities, including systematic looting not only of 
small, easily transportable goods but also the stripping of 
entire buildings for scrap to be sold abroad.  Credible reports 
indicated that members of ECOMOG facilitated the delivery 
of--if not delivering--weapons and ammunition to the AFL, LPC, 
and ULIMO combatants fighting to dislodge Taylor's NPFL.  
Allegedly, some ECOMOG soldiers engaged in the illegal drug 
trade (heroin and cocaine) and used Liberia as a transit point 
for drugs coming in from Nigeria and Ghana for onward 
shipment.  ECOMOG soldiers were also accused of using children 
as young as 8 years of age as prostitutes.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

These freedoms are provided for in the 1985 Constitution and, 
with some significant limitations, citizens generally exercised 
these rights in Monrovia.  Liberians are free to criticize the 
LNTG and ECOMOG, although they usually show restraint and 
self-censorship in favor of the temporary Governments.

Due primarily to continued economic stagnation, the number of 
publications in Monrovia fluctuated from month to month.  At 
year's end, there were eight privately owned newspapers in 
Monrovia.  While a restrictive, Doe-era media law providing the 
Ministry of Information wide discretion in licensing and 
regulating journalists remained on the books, official press 
censorship was not pervasive in Monrovia.  Also, there were no 
newspapers forcibly closed during the year.  Reflecting local 
opinion, most of the Monrovia press tended to be anti-NPFL; and 
some journalists admitted to self-censorship in favor of the 
interim governments.

Other journalists asserted that public calls by IGNU and 
subsequently LNTG officials for a "more responsible" press had 
a chilling effect on journalistic freedom.  At times, 
government officials and senior ECOMOG officers, offended by 
articles, insisted on meeting privately with journalists.  
Perhaps most chilling were the reported threats to individual 
journalists by persons claiming to represent one or another of 
the warring factions.  After a group of citizens from ULIMO 
territory published a statement in Monrovia that ULIMO should 
relinquish control of the western counties to the LNTG, the 
ULIMO leadership threatened physical harm to journalists who 
published articles making such suggestions.

There was no overt general attempt to censor the press, such as 
the mid-1993 directive from IGNU that journalists submit all 
"war-related" stories to the Ministries of Information and 
Justice for clearance on national security grounds.  At that 
time, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and newspaper publishers 
objected to the measure as a prior restraint, but the PUL and 
IGNU later compromised on guidelines for military reporting.  
Those guidelines continued in effect and undoubtedly 
constituted part of the basis for self-censorship.  Except when 
fighting became too widespread, international journalists were 
able to visit contested zones and to file reports without 
official censorship.  Because of the fighting, journalists from 
Monrovia cannot report on events in NPFL areas, and vice versa.

Outside Monrovia, residents of Liberia exercised extreme care 
in their criticism of the various factions.  Although NPFL 
leader Charles Taylor affirmed publicly on several occasions 
his support of free speech, citizens in his area were subject 
to sanctions for criticizing the NPFL.  There were two pro-NPFL 
newspapers intermittently published in NPFL territory, but no 
newspapers were printed in ULIMO- or LPC-controlled areas.  
Both NPFL papers were initially denied permission to circulate 
in Monrovia by the LNTG because they were not legally 
"registered."  LNTG officials seized copies of one of the 
papers on at least one occasion.

ECOMOG, IGNU, and subsequently the LNTG supported a radio 
station (ELBC) which broadcast progovernment (and at times 
sycophantic) programming throughout 1994.  Many credible 
journalists alleged substantial censorship of ELBC.  A 
privately owned radio station began broadcasting from Monrovia 
in October 1993 but limited its news and commentary in order to 
avoid possible governmental interference.  The NPFL continued 
to operate intermittently at least one radio station, which 
uncritically supported Charles Taylor.

The University of Liberia functioned throughout 1994 despite 
some delays caused by financial problems.  Academic freedom was 
generally respected, although the university authorities and 
most of the student body criticized pro-NPFL expression.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the rights of peaceful assembly 
and association.  ECOMOG, apparently with full IGNU agreement, 
imposed a nighttime curfew in Monrovia from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. 
after the NPFL attack in 1992; the curfew continued in force.  
ECOMOG soldiers enforced the measure strictly and arrested 
numerous persons for noncompliance.  ECOMOG periodically meted 
out corporal punishment to repeat curfew violators.

The LNTG and ECOMOG permitted political parties and other 
groups to organize freely and hold public meetings in Monrovia, 
but ECOMOG did prohibit an outdoor peace rally in July and 
generally discouraged parades or demonstrations for security 
reasons.  The NPFL and ULIMO-Mandingo forces severely 
restricted freedom of assembly and association in their areas.  
In other factions' areas, residents felt intimidated and did 
not attempt demonstrations.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The 1985 Constitution recognizes freedom of religion as a 
fundamental right, and Liberia has no established state 
religion.  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 fighters, especially by Muslim ULIMO-Mandingo forces (see 
Section 1.a.).

     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.  ECOMOG monitored freedom of movement at checkpoints 
within Monrovia and around its perimeter.

Factional fighting interfered with freedom of movement, ranging 
from resettlement of displaced persons to ordinary commerce and 
travel.  ECOMOG restricted the movement of civilians, 
humanitarian aid and staffers at various times throughout the 
year.  All factions impeded the movement of relief workers and 
supplies and extorted, humiliated, and harassed citizens at 
checkpoints and makeshift barricades.

Of a total estimated population of almost 2.7 million at the 
end of 1994, approximately 1.1 million Liberians have been 
internally displaced since 1990, and 776,000 were refugees in 
neighboring west African countries, many out of fear of ethnic 
persecution.  The number of refugees fluctuated depending on 
the intensity and proximity of the fighting to population 
centers.  Many of the displaced went to Monrovia, including the 
6,000 former refugees who returned to Liberia, reportedly 
because of the security and more reliable relief supplies.

There were approximately 130,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in 
Liberia as the civil war spilled over into Sierra Leone.  Many 
Sierra Leoneans suffered mistreatment by both ULIMO factions 
and the NPFL as they were displaced from camps in western 
counties and made their way to camps in Lofa county, where 
approximately 70,000 reside, and camps in and around Monrovia.

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

Despite constitutional and statutory provisions for free and 
fair elections, Liberians could not exercise the right to 
change their government.  Implementation of the July 1993 
Cotonou Accord and followup September 1994 Akosombo Agreement 
lagged as the factions continued to argue at year's end over 
the detailed arrangements and timetable for seating a new 
transitional government, disarmament, and demobilization.  The 
December Akosombo Clarification Agreement postponed elections 
until November 1995 and the installation of an elected 
government until January 1996.

The LNTG installed in March 1994 is a weak transition 
Government comprised of representatives of the signatories to 
the Cotonou Accord--IGNU, NPFL, and ULIMO.  There is a 5-person 
Council of State appointed by the signatory factions, a 
35-member Transitional Legislative Assembly (TLA) also 
appointed by the factions, and the judiciary.  At the end of 
the year, it remained to be seen whether the factions could 
implement the new LNTG called for in the December 21 Accra 
agreements.

There are no restrictions in law on the participation of women 
in politics; in practice, two women hold cabinet-level 
positions in the LNTG, and a few hold positions in the 
legislature and judiciary.  Overall numbers of women in the 
LNTG and the various political parties are small.

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

The interim governments have permitted domestic and 
international groups to operate freely.  The few domestic human 
rights organizations are relatively new and underfunded but 
made progress improving their influence, visibility, and 
performance.

There were no domestic human rights organizations extant 
outside the ECOMOG-controlled areas due to the warring 
factions' hostility to such organizations.

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 in fact and in some cases in 
law.

     Women

The status of women varies by region, ethnic group, and 
religion.  Before the outbreak of the civil war, women held 
one-quarter of the professional and technical occupations 
available in Monrovia.  Some women currently hold skilled jobs 
in government, including in the Cabinet, legislature, and 
judiciary.  On the whole, however, the lot of women 
deteriorated dramatically with the onset of war, the closing of 
many schools, and the loss of their traditional role in 
production, distribution, and sale of foodstuffs.  In the past 
3 years, several women's organizations formed 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, women can inherit land and property.  In rural areas, 
where traditional customs are stronger, a wife 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 do much of the farm labor and have 
only limited access to education.  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 the Government, the courts, the media, and 
women's groups never seriously addressed the issue.  There are 
several NGO's in Monrovia and Buchanan which have developed 
programs for treating abused women and girls and increasing 
their awareness of their human rights.

     Children

In the civil war, the various sides have given almost no 
attention to the welfare of children, whose education and 
nurturing have been seriously disrupted.  Many who were 
disabled, orphaned, abandoned, or "lost" during a military 
attack on their homes or villages, reportedly accepted the 
protection and sustenance that joining a faction brought.  Both 
the NPFL and the ULIMO-Mandingos recruited and trained children 
as cooks, spies, errand runners, guards, and in many instances 
combatants.  There were no precise figures on the number of 
child soldiers, but some sources estimated that 10 percent of 
the 40,000 to 60,000 combatants are under 15 years of age.  
Many children are substance abusers and depend upon the 
factions for supply.  As a result, children have become both 
victims and abusers in the conflict.  Many suffer from 
posttraumatic stress disorder.  Some NGO's have initiated small 
retraining and rehabilitation programs for a limited number of 
former child fighters (see Section 6.d.).

International health experts have condemned female genital 
mutilation (FGM), including clitoridectomy, as physically and 
psychologically damaging to the girls and young women on whom 
the operation is performed.  In some instances, female health 
professionals in the tribes have successfully participated in 
the ceremony to the extent of providing hygienic conditions and 
postoperative care.   FGM is practiced primarily on young girls 
by northern, western, and central tribes, particularly in 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.  Although there was one newspaper report of a failed 
attempt to force a girl in Monrovia to undergo the procedure, 
it was difficult to confirm the extent to which this procedure 
was practiced in 1994 by Liberia's uprooted, displaced, and 
often inaccessible population.  The most extreme form of FGM, 
infibulation, is not practiced in Liberia.

     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.  
There has been no legislative initiative to repeal this racial 
test.  The 1975 Economic "Liberianization" Law prohibits 
foreign ownership of certain businesses, such as travel 
agencies, retail gasoline stations, and beer and soft drink 
distributors.  This law resulted in the rejection of several 
foreign-owned business proposals.

The roots of the civil conflict can be found in the historical 
division between the Americo-Liberian minority, who, despite 
representing less than 5 percent of the population, 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 authoritarian military-based regime established after the 
1980 coup mounted by Sergeant Doe and other AFL noncomissioned 
officers 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, 
which represent approximately 4 percent of the population.  
Throughout the civil war, the factions have used an 
individual's language to identify ethnicity and often summarily 
executed those from groups considered hostile.  The ULIMO 
faction split in March along Krahn-Mandingo lines and fought 
each other and the NPFL.  The NPFL, supported by the Gio and 
Mano groups, waged war against four preponderantly ethnically 
constituted factions, three of them Krahn:  The predominately 
Krahn AFL troops in and around Monrovia, the Krahn LPC along 
the southern coast and north into (Krahn) Grand Gedeh county, 
and the ULIMO-Krahns in Bong county.  The ULIMO-Mandingos made 
incursions against the NPFL in Bong county and from early 
September until December held control of Gbarnga, the NPFL 
stronghold (see Section 1.g.).

     Religious Minorities

While the law prohibits religious discrimination, there were 
claims of discrimination in practice.  Some Muslims, who 
represent a growing share of the population, believe that 
Liberia's secular culture gives preference to Christianity in 
civic ceremony and observances, and that discrimination spills 
over into areas of individual opportunity and employment.  The 
Muslim education system stresses religious as opposed to 
skills-based learning.  As a result, the authorities frequently 
by-passed Muslims for the highly sought-after technical and 
bureaucratic jobs available in government.  In addition, many 
Liberian Muslims believe that their access to jobs and roles in 
public life is restricted by an anti-Muslim bias in many 
sectors of Liberian society with a predominately Christian 
orientation.

     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 is no legal discrimination against the 
disabled, but in practice they do not enjoy equal access to 
education, employment, and scant social services.  There are no 
laws mandating accessibility to public buildings or services.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The 1985 Constitution states that workers, except military and 
police, have the right to associate in trade unions (see also 
Section 6.b.).  However, as with virtually all other organized 
activity in the country, unions disappeared during the height 
of the 1989-90 war.  With the signing of the July 1993 Cotonou 
Peace Accord, many industries planned to resume, and affected 
unions began reorganizing and attempting to locate members.  
However, union efforts to reorganize generally faltered in 1994 
as factional fighting increased.  The most active organization 
was the Ship Workers' Union.

The 1985 Constitution is silent on the right to strike.  While 
the Labor Code provides for this right, the Doe government 
issued a no-strike decree in 1980.  Governments up to 1990 
intimidated labor officials, assuring a generally docile work 
force and labor environment.  Neither of the subsequent IGNU 
and LNTG legislative assemblies repealed or affirmed the 
no-strike decree, which was not challenged in 1994 as there 
were no strikes.  During the year, the LNTG took no 
discriminatory actions against organized labor.

In 1990 the U.S. Government suspended Liberia's eligibility for 
trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences 
because of its violations of worker rights.

Labor unions have traditionally affiliated freely with 
international labor groups.

     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.  
In the past, labor and employers negotiated agreements freely 
without government interference.  In 1994 these rights were 
largely moot because of the lack of economic enterprise, 
especially in Monrovia, where only a few businesses resumed 
operations, usually with reduced staffing.  There were no 
formal mechanisms in place for resolving complaints of 
discrimination against union workers.

There was no activity in Liberia's one export processing zone 
(EPZ) which has been inoperative since 1990 when fighting 
reached the free port of Monrovia.  When operational, labor 
laws have the same force in the EPZ as elsewhere in the country.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, but even before the 
civil war local authorities widely ignored this prohibition in 
rural areas where farmers were pressured into providing free 
labor on "community projects," which often benefited only local 
leaders.  The warring factions used forced labor during the 
fighting, especially for moving equipment or supplies.  
According to credible reports, ULIMO-Mandingo fighters also 
used Sierra Leonean refugees to acquire food for them, 
occasioning the flight and repatriation of approximately 5,000 
Sierra Leoneans from Vahun, Lofa county.

     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.  
This law is still technically in effect, but there is no 
enforcement.  Even earlier, enforcement by the Ministry of 
Labor was limited, and small children continued to assist their 
parents as vendors in local markets and on family subsistence 
farms.  This practice persisted in 1994, particularly in those 
areas where school had been closed because of the war.  During 
the conflict, the NPFL and ULIMO-Mandingos recruited young 
children as soldiers, many of whom had been orphaned; some were 
less than 12 years of age.  Many of these children, especially 
in the NPFL, remained under arms in 1994 (see Section 5).

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Labor Code 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.  
Those not displaced turned to subsistence farming.  The minimum 
wage was not enforced adequately by the Ministry of Labor.

The Labor Code provides for a 48-hour, 6-day regular workweek 
with a 30-minute rest period for every 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 1994, most 
employers ignored these various regulations, and there was very 
little attempt at enforcement in the country.

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

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[end of document]

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