80 CSOs call for accountability and justice for past war crimes

Association

In a letter to Liberian president George Weah on 20th September 2018, 80 CSOs urged the Liberian government to commit to 'a roadmap to ensure justice and reparations for victims of the gravest crimes committed during Liberia’s civil wars' at the United Nations General Assembly. The civil wars, which lasted 14 years, ended in 2003.

In July 2018, the UN Human Rights Council called the government to set up a process to ensure accountability for past war crimes. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia recommended the creation of a war crimes court, but it is yet to be implemented. To date, no one has been held accountable in Liberia for past abuses and war crimes, including massacres, summary executions, torture, mutilation, the use of child soldiers and the systematic use of sexual violence. The few cases of prosecutions that have taken place, occurred in other jurisdictions outside of Liberia, mainly in the United States of America and Europe. 

Peaceful Assembly

Bring Back Our Money protest

On 24th September 2018, hundreds of protesters gathered in Monrovia to demand the return of 16 billion Liberian dollars (104 million USD) in cash that is unaccounted for. The money, printed abroad, went missing after arriving in containers in two Liberian ports between November 2017 and August 2018. The protesters, who braved the rain, marched to the United States embassy, the European Union and the United Nations buildings to present petitions requesting them to exert pressure on the Liberian government to account for the missing money. Previously, an investigation was launched and a travel ban imposed on 15 people as part of the probe, although the Central Bank of Liberia later claimed, in October 2018, that the bank notes were not missing at all. 

According to Frontpage Africa, at least two people linked to the protest claim to have received an 'invitation' by police for questioning prior to the protest, namely Emmanuel Gonquoi of the Freedom Economic Fighters and Martin Kollie of Concerned Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back. According to the police, the invitation was intended ‘so that they can tell us the purpose of the protest, where they will be gathering and which route they’ll use – that’s all’.

Protest to demand justice for past war crimes

On 12th November 2018, hundreds of Liberians marched in Monrovia to call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court to hold the perpetrators of war crimes during Liberia’s civil wars to account. The protesters, under the banner of ‘Campaigners and Victims For Justice’, presented petitions to the embassies of the United States, the European Union, the office of the United Nations and the office of President Weah.

Expression

Bettie Johnson-Mbayo, journalist for the newspaper Front Page Africasaid to have received two threatening calls from a lawyer on 15th August 2018. In the first call, Johnson-Mbayo received a death threat, and in the second call she was threatened with the disappearance of one of her children if she continued publishing stories on the lawyer's client. The incident was condemned by Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the Centre for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the Reporters Association of Liberia (RAL). The newspaper filed a complaint against the lawyer, and after a police investigation, the individual was charged with 'terroristic threat and menacing'.