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Title:  Liberia Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
                                LIBERIA 
 
 
Although the first 8 months of 1995 saw a continuation of civil war, a 
new peace accord signed in Abuja, Nigeria on August 19 offered some hope 
that the 6-year conflict would end.  The factions signing the Abuja 
Accord included:  the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), two 
ethnic subfactions--Krahn and Mandingo--of the United Liberation 
Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO), and a coalition of anti-NPFL 
forces comprised of the Liberia Peace Council (LPC), the Lofa Defense 
Force, and a breakaway-NPFL group called the Central Revolutionary 
Council.  A cease-fire agreed to in the new accord went into effect 
August 26, and a new Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG-II, 
the successor to the LNTG-I) was inaugurated on September 1.  A six-
person Council of State--three members representing the warring factions 
and three representing civilians--began filling government positions in 
September.     
 
Under the Abuja Accord timetable, the Economic Community of West African 
States Cease-Fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and the U.N. Observer 
Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL) were to deploy into areas previously 
controlled by the factions, starting in October.  ECOMOG's deployment 
was delayed, however, due to logistical problems.  ECOMOG did begin 
further deployment in December but temporarily halted this process when 
its troops were attacked by rebels near Tubmanburg, Bomi county, at the 
end of the year. 
 
The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) remained largely inactive, although 
they did man checkpoints near the Schiefflin Camp on the Monrovia-
Buchanan highway.  The AFL as an institution was not identified with 
human rights abuses, but many AFL soldiers were recruited into the LPC.   
 
The Liberian National Police (LNP), which reports to the Ministry of 
Justice, together with the National Security Agency (NSA) and the 
Special Security Services (reporting directly to the LNTG) also have 
responsibility for internal security, but they lacked the resources and 
training to function effectively.  In the spring, the LNP established a 
special operations department, composed of a task force and rapid 
response unit to combat soaring crime in Monrovia.  While civilian 
authorities generally maintained control of these groups, there were 
instances in which individual members acted independently of 
governmental authority and committed human rights abuses. 
 
ECOMOG was the key military force supporting the LNTG-II, as for all 
previous interim governments.  At the end of 1995 ECOMOG was composed of 
approximately 7,200 troops from six West African countries; over half 
were Nigerian.  ECOMOG is supported primarily by nations who have 
contributed troops.  ECOMOG has in effect acted as the interim 
governments' security force.  In addition, absent an effective central 
government, it assumed many police powers in areas under its control.  
ECOMOG also continued its humanitarian role and maintained a protective 
cordon around the cities of Monrovia and Buchanan where 1.2 million 
people (almost half of the country's population) live.  There were 
reports that a few ECOMOG soldiers committed human rights abuses such as 
arbitrary detentions. 
 
The economy, ravaged by civil war, remained in severe disarray.  Prior 
to 1990 it was based primarily on iron ore, rubber, timber, diamond, and 
gold exports.  Eighty to 90 percent unemployment, massive displacements 
of civilians, and wanton destruction and looting devastated productive 
capacity, despite the country's rich natural resource endowments and 
potential self-sufficiency in agriculture.  Gross domestic product was 
estimated to be less than one-fifth of its prewar level. 
 
The war has taken a horrendous toll on civilians.  Of a prewar 
population of 2.8 million, 150,000 people have been killed, 750,000 have 
fled the country, and 1.2 million are internally displaced.  The media, 
eyewitnesses, human rights monitoring groups, and international 
observers all reported flagrant disregard for human rights by the 40,000 
to 60,000 fighters in the major factions.  The factions looted and 
burned villages; used excessive force; engaged in arbitrary detentions 
and impressment, particularly of children under the age of 18; employed 
forced labor; committed torture, individual and gang rape, summary 
executions, mutilations, and cannibalism. 
 
Massive emergency operations by the United Nations, as well as by other 
Western relief agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) 
brought subsistence-level humanitarian aid to people living in the 
ECOMOG protective-cordon around Monrovia and Buchanan.  Continued 
fighting and attacks on civilians and humanitarian relief conveys 
prevented regular delivery of humanitarian assistance outside ECOMOG-
controlled areas, although sometimes NGO convoys, crossing the borders 
from Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, or factional lines within the country, 
managed to deliver food and medical supplies to needy civilians 
upcountry. 
 
Because of the war, citizens have not been able to elect a 
representative government.  The judicial system continued to be hampered 
by inefficiency and corruption.  Prison conditions were life 
threatening.  There were some attempts to limit freedom of the press and 
freedom of association.  Violence against women is a longstanding 
problem.  The practice of female genital mutilation persists.  No 
progress was made in resolving outstanding incidents of past human 
rights abuses. 
 
Although the 1985 Constitution, the Penal Code, and the Labor Code 
remain in effect, because of the civil war the rights provided for in 
these documents were largely not protected in practice.   
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There were no reports of extrajudicial killings by the AFL, LNTG-I, or 
LNTG-II security forces, but five members of the LNTG-II police were 
jailed pending internal investigation for the beating death November 18 
of a Mandingo merchant.   
 
Although they professed adherence to the rule of law, the leaders of the 
major warring factions condoned and in some instances seemingly appeared 
to encourage the murderous savagery that killed or maimed more civilians 
than combatants (see Section 1.g.).  In the many killings committed by 
the factions, it was often impossible to determine whether they were 
politically motivated or driven by tribal hatred (see Section 5).  One 
such example is the ritualistic mutilation, murder, and dismemberment of 
a University of Liberia student, a Mandingo, in Tubmanburg on August 14 
by ULIMO-Krahn fighters.  After beheading and cannibalizing the young 
man, soldiers took his body to Lofa Bridge where the Krahns were 
fighting the Mandingos for control of the diamond mines.  The student's 
mangled body was found outside Tubmanburg 3 days later.  ECOMOG soldiers 
later arrested several ULIMO-Krahn fighters. 
 
The majority of civilian deaths took place during raids on villages (see 
Section 1.g).  There were reports that ULIMO-Mandingo fighters harassed 
and executed civilians in Lofa county for religious and ethnic reasons.   
 
In late September, during an intra-NPFL dispute, factional fighters 
murdered civilians in Tappeta and destroyed the town.  A number of NPFL 
commandos were tried in Gbarnga by the NPFL for the Tappeta incidents in 
November and found guilty.  They were released after serving three 
months of their 12-month sentences.   
 
There were credible reports that George Boley, leader of the LPC faction 
and member of the LNTG-II, authorized the summary execution of seven of 
his fighters November 14 for harassment of civilians.  Boley did not 
deny these allegations.  Displaced persons reported that factions 
usually did not hold prisoners, but either released them or shot and 
killed them on the spot.   
 
No progress was made in the investigation of the December 1994 massacre 
at DuPont Road on the outskirts of Monrovia in which more than 60 
civilians, most of them children, were murdered (see Section 1.d).   
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of disappearance perpetrated by the AFL, LNTG-I or 
LNTG-II police or security forces, nor by ECOMOG.  The major factions 
were responsible for many unexplained disappearances however, notably by 
impressment of children (see Sections 1.g., 5, and 6.d.).  Many families 
remained divided by the war.  Among those are families living in 
Monrovia, those located in other parts of Liberia, and those who fled 
the country.  The International Committee of the Red Cross has a family 
tracing program but, because of the inaccessibility of major sectors of 
the country through most of the year, located only a small percentage of 
the missing persons brought to its attention. 
 
Ten ECOMOG soldiers were missing after the ULIMO-Krahn attack in 
Tubmanburg in December.  They are presumed dead.  
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
Although the Constitution prohibits torture and other degrading 
treatment, the factions continued to perpetrate massive abuses.  There 
were no reports of torture by the AFL, LNTG-I or LNTG-II police or 
security forces, nor by ECOMOG.   
 
Although the Supreme Court ruled that "trial by ordeal" or "sassywood"--
commonly, the placement of a burning metal object on a suspect's body to 
induce confession in a criminal investigation--is unconstitutional, the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs continued to have licensed agents who 
subjected suspects to this practice.  A lawsuit brought in 1994 for 
injuries resulting from sassywood is pending before the Supreme Court.   
 
A LNTG-I policeman beat a journalist; authorities did not investigate 
the incident.  Eyewitnesses report that ECOMOG soldiers beat individuals 
at ECOMOG checkpoints in an effort to curb criminal activity.   
 
All the major factions engaged in torture and other cruel, inhuman, and 
degrading treatment.  After the seating of the LNTG-II Council of State 
in September, faction leaders and their bodyguards traveling in motor 
vehicle convoys in Monrovia routinely intimidated and sometimes beat 
civilians who did not give way fast enough to their processions.  NPFL 
fighters stripped, beat, and tortured civilians at numerous highway 
checkpoints in the NPFL areas, usually in connection with extortion or 
other forms of intimidation.  In addition, the NPFL was charged by the 
Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) with numerous massacres of civilians 
(see Section 1.g.).  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.  LPC fighters were 
widely accused of beating, torturing, and killing civilians, especially 
persons suspected of being NPFL sympathizers, and torching their 
villages.  Members of all factions practiced cannibalism (see Section 
1.g.).  Displaced persons escaping to Buchanan in February claimed that 
the LPC held 6,000 persons hostage in and around Compound Number 3 and 
the Liberian Agricultural Company plantation, under the guise of 
offering them security but in reality using them for forced labor.  On 
February 13, LPC fighters severely manhandled an expatriate NGO nurse 
and badly beat another NGO's local staff member.  At year's end, forced 
labor reportedly continued in the Southeastern counties, despite George 
Boley's December 14 order to his LPC/Coalition fighters to prepare to 
report to assembly sites for disarmament.  The warring factions 
regularly committed violence against women, including individual and 
gang rape, as in the case of three rapes December 14 near Sinje, Grand 
Cape Mount county, which were committed either by Mandingo or ULIMO-
Krahn fighters. 
 
Neither the LNTG-I nor LNTG-II addressed the life threatening conditions 
in government jails.  There were credible reports of death among 
prisoners due to starvation.  The interim governments did not provide 
prisoners with adequate food or medical care.  Cells were small, 
crowded, and filthy.   
 
Women, representing 5 percent of the central prison population, were 
held in separate cells, but there were no separate facilities for 
juvenile offenders.  The LNTG-I and II 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, many of whom were held 
for up to 1 year without charge. 
 
The conditions of detention by factions were reportedly even worse.  
Factions held prisoners in makeshift, substandard facilities and 
subjected them to various forms of mistreatment, both physical and 
psychological--including beatings, rape, threatened executions, and 
"tarbeying" (tying the elbows together behind the back).   
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and provides for the rights 
of the accused, including warrants for arrests and the right of 
detainees to be either charged or released within 48 hours.  In 
practice, Liberian National Police officers, who operate only in the 
cities of Monrovia and Buchanan, and during part of the year in 
Tubmanburg, often disregarded these rights and made arbitrary arrests.  
Many of these officers, who often do not receive their monthly salary of 
$5, accepted bribes to arrest persons based on unsubstantiated 
allegations.  Approximately 90 percent of the prison population was held 
without charge for more than 1 year.     
 
ECOMOG soldiers played the major role in policing the greater Monrovia 
area.  Citizens continued to turn to ECOMOG rather than the largely 
unarmed police force to arrest and detain alleged criminals.  ECOMOG 
regularly turned detainees over to civilian authorities, although the 
police denied in a year-end dispute that ECOMOG had turned over 11 
suspects in the December 1994 Dupont Road massacre.  There were 
unconfirmed reports that ECOMOG coerced confessions from suspects.   
 
There were no known political detainees in the cities of Monrovia and 
Buchanan.   
 
The factions arbitrarily detained numerous persons and held so-called 
"prisoners of war" from the AFL and other factions.  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 warrantless arrests.  They exercised that power often and 
capriciously, detaining persons on spurious grounds or without charge 
for periods ranging from several hours to several weeks.  Just prior to 
the seating of the LNTG-II, over 300 children from the Fatima Cottage 
Orphanage Mission, abducted by Taylor's NPFL forces during "Operation 
Octopus," were returned from Gbarnga to Monrovia.   
 
Approximately 750,000 citizens, including former political leaders, have 
fled the country because of the war. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
While the Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, because of 
the war the judiciary does not function in most areas of the country.  
Where it does function, it is in practice subject to political, social, 
familial, and financial suasion.  Under the Constitution, defendants 
have due process rights conforming to internationally accepted norms of 
fair trial.  Most of these rights, however, were ignored in practice. 
 
The court structure is divided into four levels with the Supreme Court, 
whose members are appointed by the LNTG-II, at the apex.  Although 
devastated by years of civil war, all levels of the court system, 
including the Supreme Court, were functioning in 1995 in Monrovia, 
although erratically.  Corruption and incompetent handling of cases 
remained a recurrent problem.  Although the judiciary was allocated some 
resources by the interim governments, little progress was made.   
 
Customary law was also used 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 areas controlled by the major factions, there was little pretense 
of due process; swift judgment was meted out by the faction leaders.     
 
Both ECOMOG and the AFL chief of staff under the LNTG-I issued warnings 
to lawyers to desist from defending armed robbers.   
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
While the Constitution provides for these rights, in wartime Liberia 
LNTG-I and LNTG-II authorities sometimes ignored them.  The Constitution 
provides that police must obtain a warrant or have a reasonable belief 
that a crime is in progress or is about to be committed before entering 
a private dwelling.  In practice, the police forced entry without a 
warrant to carry out arrests and investigations.  Members of the NSA 
harassed the director of a well-known human rights organization in July.  
The director's nephew was detained by police, NSA agents and ECOMOG 
soldiers July 28 and beaten when he denied knowledge of the director's 
whereabouts. 
 
The warring factions committed the most egregious abuses, including 
confiscation, indiscriminate looting, pillaging, and destruction of 
property.  Combatants looted villages, with ULIMO-Krahn and ULIMO-
Mandingo factions in Bomi and Cape Mount counties and LPC and NPFL 
fighters in Southeast counties and elsewhere drawing 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. 
 
   g.   Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in 
Internal Conflicts 
 
The major warring factions inflicted considerably more harm on 
noncombatants than on each other.  They deliberately targeted, tortured, 
and murdered innocent civilians and regularly committed violence against 
women, children, and the elderly.  The four militarily active factions 
indiscriminately ransacked villages and confiscated scant food supplies.   
 
Displaced persons reported many incidents in which civilians died at the 
hands of marauding fighters.  In March the Catholic  
 
Church's human rights organization, the JPC, published a report charging 
the NPFL with killing or abducting 2,000 civilians, or 10 percent of the 
town's population, in its 6-month siege of Bong Mines and raids on 
neighboring areas.  The JPC also accused the NPFL of a massacre over 300 
civilians who were taken hostage on their way to the Heindi market near 
Bong Mines on March 7; the NPFL reportedly later returned to kill 200 
more civilians and burn 50 houses.  The JPC reported a massacre at 
Heindi early in the week of March 25, where 64 bodies were hastily 
buried in a common grave and 450 houses burned.  Displaced persons who 
had fled fighting between the NPFL and ULIMO-Krahns in Nyehn, southwest 
of Kakata, in April reported that the NPFL massacred 150 persons, raped 
women, burned houses and mutilated babies.  On April 9 in Yorsetown, 62 
people, including women and children, were killed with cutlasses and 
knives.  Survivors said the NPFL was responsible; they also reported 
that bodies were cannibalized.  Survivors of a massacre of 74 civilians 
on the railroad between Bong Mines and Monrovia on May 3 said the NPFL 
was responsible.   
 
In late February, ULIMO-Mandingo fighters killed 27 persons in Gbarma, 
Grand Cape Mount, and burned to the ground the neighboring villages of 
Tarkpoima and Zuo.  In two separate incidents in the first 2 weeks of 
March, 300 ULIMO-Krahn fighters, said to be "on a rampage" in Grand Cape 
Mount, massacred 50 people near Madina.  ULIMO-Mandingo fighters killed 
hundreds of civilians in Menkor Town, Grand Cape Mount, and abducted 
many others, whose fate is unknown.  ULIMO-Mandingo fighters ambushed 
vehicles on the Bomi Highway, killing at least five civilians and 
injuring others at the end of March.  ULIMO-Mandingo fighters entered 
Kpeneji town in Grand Cape Mount on April 4, killing three civilians and 
setting the town afire, including a large refugee/displaced persons 
camp.  ULIMO-Krahn fighters, headquartered in Roysville, Grand Cape 
Mount, launched daily operations against nearby villages such as one 
early morning raid on April 15 when they raped women, flogged men and 
boys, and buried people up to their necks on the beach.  Mandingo forces 
murdered 55 civilians in Guthrie in late April.  During another looting 
raid, ULIMO-Krahn fighters killed a Baptist clergyman and injured an 
additional 6 civilians on May 2 in Bendu Mission, Grand Cape Mount, an 
incident confirmed by the Baptist Church in Monrovia.  Skirmishing 
between the two ULIMO subfactions was continuous at the diamond-rich 
Lofa Bridge area in southern Lofa county.  At the end of December, 
ULIMO-Krahn fighters attacked ECOMOG soldiers near Tubmanburg who were 
deploying to begin disarmament measures called for in the Abuja Accord.  
They killed and wounded numerous people, forcing over 15,000 civilians 
to flee the area.   
 
In the southeastern counties, the NPFL and LPC vied for control.  NPFL 
fighters in Rivercess routinely tortured women by placing hot metal 
between their legs and forcing men to rape women.  In February NPFL 
fighters killed at least 10 people and wounded several others in Kabeh 
town.  Displaced persons reported that the LPC frequently burned women 
between their breasts, on their thighs or their backs; burned men on 
their genitals and legs; and buried people alive.  The rape of both old 
and young women was common.  Displaced persons arriving at Monrovia 
shelters reported that LPC fighters in Greenville in March killed 55 
persons who had surrendered to them. 
 
At the end of March LPC fighters murdered a number of civilians in 
Sakpoh, Clark's Town, and Cheasbeh, Sinoe county.  By the end of April, 
fighting between the NPFL and LPC reportedly resulted in the death of 
over 1,000 civilians in a 1-month period in these counties, with few 
injuries to the fighters.   
 
There were credible reports that NPFL, ULIMO-Krahn, ULIMO-Mandingo, and 
LPC fighters committed acts of cannibalism (see Section 1.a.).  In some 
instances, the fighters ate specific organs in the belief that it would 
make them stronger.   
 
Relief organizations estimated 1.2 million persons have been internally 
displaced since the war began.  Most of these are dependent on 
humanitarian aid for survival.  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.  The U.N. and relief 
agencies reported regular harassment of their staffs and the looting of 
food and medical supplies and gasoline.  In August, after the cease-fire 
went into effect and the humanitarian community had access upcountry for 
the first time, they found severe malnutrition in many areas.  
Throughout the year, due either to unstable conditions or sporadic 
skirmishes between the factions, it remained difficult to deliver 
humanitarian assistance outside ECOMOG-protected areas.   
 
Credible reports indicated that members of ECOMOG facilitated the 
delivery of--if they did not actually deliver--weapons and ammunition to 
the LPC and both ULIMO subfactions.   
 
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, although 
toward the end of the year the LNTG-II attempted to intimidate and 
restrict the press.  Citizens, including journalists, usually showed 
restraint and self-censorship in favor of the interim governments.  Due 
primarily to continued economic stagnation, all newspapers struggled to 
get their editions published.  Until October there were eight privately 
owned newspapers in Monrovia, which published from one to five times 
weekly, bimonthly or, in the case of the human rights newspaper, as the 
situation warranted.  Since mid-October, 7 new tabloid newspapers have 
appeared, bringing the total to 15, an indication of a vibrant press.  
One of the new newspapers focused solely on women's issues; another was 
dedicated to covering disarmament and demobilization.  The press tended 
to be anti-NPFL, openly criticizing Taylor, a member of the LTNG-II.  
This too was indicative of an increasingly strong media.  In August a 
new independent and privately owned radio station was inaugurated.   
 
The restrictive Media Law, instituted during the Doe regime, remains in 
force and provides the Ministry of Information wide discretion in 
licensing and regulating journalists.  A 1993 decree, which also remains 
in effect, set up guidelines for reporting on war-related issues. 
 
On October 9, the LNTG-II Chief Justice warned the press, lawyers, and 
others against criticizing decisions of the Court, specifically naming 
the former Chairman of the LNTG-I, who had commented publicly on an 
appeal motion.  In November and December, the Minister of Justice 
brought a number of questionable lawsuits against prominent opposition 
figures for alleged criticism of the Council of State.  These cases were 
pending at the end of the year. 
 
The interim governments failed to take action in several incidents in 
which journalists were mistreated.  On April 26, Budu Kaisa, a 
journalist affiliated with the British Broadcasting Corporation, in 
search of an interview, was flogged by a police major assigned to the 
Labor Ministry.  In May photojournalist James Momo received death 
threats from coalition fighters irked by his publication of a photo 
showing a naked NPFL fighter holding the head of his beheaded NPFL 
colleague.  On July 30, journalist Bill Jarkloh was flogged by ULIMO-
Krahn fighters. 
 
Members of the LNTG-I and II interim governments also harassed and 
intimidated journalists, rationalizing their behavior by pointing to a 
lack of professionalism on the part of journalists and editors.  In 
January the Information Minister, who insisted on having prior knowledge 
of program contents before broadcast, canceled the government radio 
station's public affairs program.  The Council of State, however, warned 
the Minister to desist from such censorship.  At times journalists were 
requested to meet privately with government officials and senior ECOMOG 
officers who had been offended by articles.  Some journalists admitted 
to self-censorship in favor of the interim government.  Except when 
fighting became too widespread, international journalists were able to 
visit contested zones and to write news articles for their publications 
with no official censorship.   
 
After the inauguration of the LNTG-II, threats against the press 
increased.  An October 4 front page article in the local press claimed 
that the new police director had instructed the owner of the printing 
press which publishes daily newspapers in the capital to submit copies 
of all issues to his office before releasing them to the public.  The 
press united in condemning this instruction, and the police director let 
it drop.  State councilmen and their representatives made repeated 
attacks on the press for publishing articles or airing comments they 
considered critical of members of the LNTG-II Council.  Journalists 
responded vigorously to each threat.  
 
On December 8, the Liberia Broadcasting System justified stopping a 
number of religious and political radio programs, claiming the content 
was inflammatory or dangerous to the peace process.  In mid-December the 
Ministry of Information informed the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) that 
it would accredit journalists in the future, an activity previously 
carried out by PUL.  No newspapers were forcibly closed during the year.   
 
There was one pro-NPFL newspaper intermittently published in NPFL 
territory; none, official or private, were printed in ULIMO- or LPC-
controlled areas.   
 
The government radio station, ELBC, continued to broadcast throughout 
the year, using equipment donated by ECOMOG.  Its news reports were 
favorable (at times sycophantic) to the LNTG, and while some talk shows 
criticized ECOMOG and the LNTG, many credible journalists alleged 
substantial censorship of ELBC.  Two privately owned religious radio 
stations also broadcast from Monrovia throughout the year, but the 
content of their programs was noncontroversial.  Since the cease-fire in 
August two independent stations began airing programs.  The NPFL also 
opened a private radio station with news programs uncritically 
supporting the NPFL and Charles Taylor's political agenda.   
 
Academic freedom was generally respected at the University of Liberia, 
which continued to operate despite some delays caused by financial 
problems.  In November LNTG-II police and NSA officers went to the 
University to arrest the leader of the student union for supporting the 
teachers' strike.  However, the officers left the campus after seeing 
student support for their leader.   
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Constitution provides for the rights of peaceful assembly and 
association.  The LNTG-I and II permitted political parties and other 
groups to organize freely and hold public meetings in Monrovia, but 
ECOMOG generally discouraged large-scale parades or demonstrations for 
security reasons.  The factions severely restricted freedom of assembly 
and association in areas they controlled.   
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The Constitution recognizes freedom of religion as a fundamental right, 
and Liberia has no established state religion.  Although Islam is 
gaining adherents, as much as 40 percent of the population profess to be 
Christian.  A significant portion of the population follows traditional 
animistic religions or practices a mixture of traditional religions with 
Christianity or Islam.  Islamic leaders complained that Muslims were 
discriminated against (see Section 5).  There was no evidence of 
systematic violation of religious freedom by warring factions.   
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Constitution provides for freedom of movement throughout the country 
as well as the right to leave or enter.  To protect the 1.2 million 
people in Monrovia and Buchanan from rampant lawlessness and banditry, 
ECOMOG established a protective cordon around those cities and numerous 
checkpoints within the capital.  There were reports that some ECOMOG 
soldiers beat individuals at checkpoints (see Section 1.c.).  ECOMOG 
arrested numerous persons for noncompliance with the curfew and 
periodically meted out corporal punishment to repeat curfew violators.  
After the cease-fire, ECOMOG reduced the hours of the nighttime curfew.   
 
Before the cease-fire on August 26 factional fighting prevented freedom 
of movement, restricting a range of activities from resettlement of 
displaced to ordinary commerce and travel.  The warring factions impeded 
the movement of relief workers and supplies and extorted, humiliated, 
and harassed citizens throughout the country at checkpoints and 
makeshift barricades.  When ECOMOG could not guarantee safe passage 
upcountry, it restricted the movement of civilians and humanitarian aid 
workers at various times throughout the year.  Even after the seating of 
the LNTG-II Council of State, there were reports that beatings of 
international humanitarian workers and thefts of foodstuffs and 
humanitarian vehicles by the warring factions continued.   
 
Since 1990 approximately 1.2 million citizens (of an estimated prewar 
population of 2.8 million) have been internally displaced.   There are 
more than 750,000 Liberian refugees in neighboring West African 
countries, although the number of refugees fluctuated depending on the 
intensity and proximity of the fighting to population centers in 
Liberia.  Many of the internally displaced went to Monrovia because of 
the greater security provided by ECOMOG and more reliable relief 
supplies. 
 
There are approximately 120,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia.  
Many Sierra Leoneans were mistreated by both ULIMO factions and the NPFL 
as they were displaced by fighting.  The interim governments cooperated 
with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other 
humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.  There were no reports 
of forced expulsion of those having a valid claim to refugee status. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Despite constitutional and statutory guarantees of free and fair 
elections, due to the civil war citizens could not exercise the right to 
change their government.  A new interim government, the third since the 
war began, was installed on September 1, as a result of the signing of 
the Abuja Accord on August 19.  The peace accord provides for national 
elections to take place in August 1996.   
 
There are no restrictions on the participation of women in politics.  
While there is only one female cabinet minister in the LNTG-II, several 
women hold key positions and exert considerable influence.  Overall 
numbers of women in the LNTG-II 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 generally permitted domestic and 
international groups to operate freely.  However, NSA agents harassed a 
prominent human rights lawyer and his family (see Section 1.e.).   
 
The few domestic human rights organizations are underfunded and lack 
adequate training but made progress in improving their influence, 
visibility, and performance.  One group has a weekly radio program; 
another group occasionally published a newspaper dedicated to human 
rights.  There is a Monrovia-based consortium of NGO's monitoring human 
rights, consisting of the Center for Law and Human Rights Education, the 
Justice and Peace Commission, Liberian Human Rights Chapter, Liberian 
Watch on Human Rights, Association of Female Lawyers, and Association of 
Human Rights Promoters.  One new group, the National Human Rights 
Monitor, was formed.  Some groups visited prisoners in government jails.  
None of these organizations reported governmental interference with 
their activities.   
 
There were no domestic human rights organizations extant outside the 
cities of Monrovia and Buchanan due to the warring factions' hostility 
to such organizations.   
 
Although UNOMIL has responsibility for monitoring human rights, for most 
of the year no one carried out this function.  In October one trained 
human rights observer was assigned to UNOMIL.  No UNOMIL reports on 
human rights were made public.   
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on ethnic background, 
race, sex, creed, place of origin, or political opinion, but de facto 
and in some cases de jure discrimination exist. 
 
   Women 
 
In the massive violence inflicted on civilians during the conflict, 
women suffered a gamut of abuses (see Sections 1.c. and 1.g.).  Rape was 
commonplace.  Even prior to the war, domestic violence against women was 
extensive but never seriously addressed as an issue by the Government, 
the courts, the media, or women's groups.  Since the war began, 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.  Several NGO's in Monrovia and Buchanan have developed 
programs for treating abused women and girls and increasing their 
awareness of their human rights. 
 
The status of women varies by region, ethnic group, and religion.  
Before the outbreak of the civil war, women held one-fourth the 
professional and technical occupations available in Monrovia.  Some 
women currently hold skilled jobs in government, including in the 
judiciary.  On the whole, however, the situation of women deteriorated 
dramatically with the onset of war, the closing of many schools, and the 
loss of their traditional role in production, allocation, and sale of 
food.  In urban areas, 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. 
 
   Children 
 
Denied a normal childhood, Liberian youth have been the most tragic 
victims of the civil war.  The factions have abused children and given 
no attention to their welfare; education and nurturing have been 
completely disrupted.  Many who were disabled, orphaned, abandoned, or 
"lost" during a military attack on their homes or villages, accepted the 
protection and sustenance that joining a faction brought.  The NPFL, 
LPC, and the ULIMO-Mandingos recruited and trained children as cooks, 
spies, errand runners, guards, patrols, and in many instances, 
combatants.  Faction leaders provided addictive drugs to children, 
thereby ensuring their compliance and continued participation in 
warfare.  Many have been killed or wounded, have witnessed terrible 
atrocities, or themselves committed atrocities.  There are no precise 
figures on the number of child soldiers, but some sources believe that 
10 percent of the estimated 60,000 combatants are under 15 years of age; 
about 50 percent may be under 19.  Children have become both victims and 
abusers in the conflict.  Many suffer from post-traumatic stress 
syndrome and have become addicted to drugs.  Some NGO's have initiated 
small retraining and rehabilitation programs for a limited number of 
former child fighters (see Section 6.d.). 
 
Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been widely condemned by 
international health experts as damaging to both physical and 
psychologically health.  FGM traditionally has been performed on young 
girls by northern, western, and central tribes, particularly in rural 
areas and among traditional societies.  It was difficult to confirm the 
extent to which this procedure was practiced in 1995 by the uprooted, 
displaced, and often inaccessible population.  In some instances, female 
health professionals in the tribes participated in the practice to the 
extent of providing hygienic conditions and postoperative care.  The 
most extreme form of FGM, infibulation, is not practiced. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
The 6-year 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.  There are no laws mandating 
accessibility to public buildings or services. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
The law prohibits religious discrimination.   Some Muslims, however, who 
represent a growing share of the population, believe that Liberia's 
secular culture gives preference to Christianity in civic ceremonies and 
observances, and that discrimination spills over into areas of 
individual opportunity and employment.  Although there are some notable 
Muslims in top government positions, including on the Council of State, 
many Muslims believe that they are bypassed for the highly sought-after 
technical and bureaucratic jobs available in government. 
 
   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 persons who were born or 
lived most of their lives in Liberia.  There has been no legislative 
initiative to repeal this racial test, but there are reports that non-
Liberians have acquired Liberian passports.  The 1975 Economic 
"Liberianization" law prohibits foreign ownership of certain businesses, 
such as travel agencies, retail gasoline stations, and beer and soft-
drink distributors. 
 
The roots of the current civil conflict can be found, to a large extent, 
in the historical division between the Americo-Liberian minority and the 
16 indigenous ethnic groups.  Ethnic tensions were exacerbated during 
the Doe regime because of domination by his ethnic group, the Krahns.  
Throughout the civil war, the factions used an individual's language to 
identify ethnicity and often summarily executed those from groups 
considered hostile. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
The Constitution states that workers, except military and police, 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.  More than 20 trade unions, representing 
about 15 percent of the wage-earning work force, were registered with 
the Ministry of Labor before the war began in 1989.  Ten national unions 
were members of the Liberian Federation of Labor Unions.  However, the 
actual power the unions exercised was limited. 
 
Like virtually all other organized activity in the country, unions 
disappeared as economic activity ceased at the beginning of the war.  In 
subsequent years the ability of unions to operate was a direct function 
of the level of factional fighting and the effect of the war on 
extractive industries.  Union activity practically halted with the 
increase of factional fighting prior to the August cease-fire.  The most 
active organization was the Ship Workers' Union, which urged the LNTG-I 
and II to pressure Liberian flag vessels to employ more Liberian 
workers. 
 
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.  The Constitution is 
silent on the right to strike, but labor laws do protect this right.  
During the year, neither LNTG-I nor LNTG-II took discriminatory actions 
against organized labor, even though the LNTG-I State Council chairman 
threatened to fire government employees if they stayed home on March 8, 
a successful 1-day work "stoppage" called by civilian groups to 
demonstrate their discontent with the lack of progress in the peace 
process.  No one was fired for participating.  The Liberian Electric 
company employees, who staged a 1-week strike in September to demand 
back wages, were paid and returned to work.  During a 3-week November 
teachers' strike for back pay and other benefits, the Government 
negotiated with the Teachers' Union and promised to pay; the teachers 
returned to work.  In December health personnel asked for their delayed 
pay checks, threatening a work slowdown.  Government officials were 
attempting to solve the problem of salary arrearages for all civil 
servants at year's end.   
 
Labor unions have traditionally affiliated 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, agreements were 
negotiated freely between workers and their employers without government 
interference.  In 1995 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. 
 
   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.  This year the warring factions continued 
to use forced labor, especially for moving equipment or supplies.  There 
were credible reports that ULIMO-Mandingo fighters also used Sierra 
Leonean refugees to acquire food for them. 
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
Even before the civil war, enforcement of the law prohibiting employment 
of children under age 16 during school hours in the wage sector was 
limited.  Small children continued to assist their parents as vendors in 
local markets and on family subsistence farms.  This practice persists, 
particularly in those areas affected by the war, where there are no 
schools.  Throughout the conflict, the NPFL and ULIMO-Mandingos 
recruited young children as soldiers.  Many of these children, 
especially in NPFL-controlled territories, remained under arms (see 
Section 5). 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
The Labor Law provides for a minimum wage, paid leave, severance 
benefits, and safety standards, but with the war enforcement mechanisms 
collapsed.  In the war-decimated economy citizens were forced to accept 
any work they could find, regardless of wage.  A legal minimum wage of 
approximately $0.90 per day for agricultural workers and 3 or 4 times 
that amount for industrial workers remains in force, but because of the 
war it was not enforced.   
 
The 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.  Prior to 1990 there also were government-
established health and safety standards, enforced in theory by the 
Ministry of Labor.  Because of the war these regulations were not in 
fact enforced.  Even under the Labor Code, workers did not have a 
specific right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations.     
 
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[end of document]

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