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Human Rights Activist Freed In Liberia - 2002-08-01

Police in Monrovia have released the head of alocal human rights campaigner arrested on Monday. Dixon Gblah of the Liberia prison watch was arrested and detained for a report his organization released on the human rights abuses by state security.

Mr. Gblah says his arrest and detention by the police was outrageous.

Speaking after he was released, the Liberian human rights advocate says the action of the police will not deter him in his campaign against human rights violations in the country.

The Liberia Prison Watch is primarily concerned with violations at detention centers in the country.

The group’s annual report of 2001 pointed to the growing wave of arbitrary arrests and detentions by state security personnel. The report also mentioned cases of rape, torture and pro-long detention by state security. He says Liberia Prison Watch stands by everything contained in the report that landed him into trouble.

Mr. Gblah describes his experience while in police custody.

He says, “I was never beaten, but psychologically I was tortured because it was humiliating to be placed in a criminal cell with common criminals -and hardened criminals like rogues who were butt naked; in fact I was stripped butt naked by inmates in the police detention. And so I was intimidated, I was molested. Really it was a shame”.

According to Mr. Gblah, his release followed the intervention of President Charles Taylor.

A government statement issued accused Mr. Gblah of operating an undercover intelligence unit of Amnesty International. The statement says Mr. Gblah has been secretly supplying Amnesty International alleged human rights violations by state security. The Information Ministry said the human rights defender was arrested to assist the police in an ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, armed government troops have been redeployed in the diplomatic district of Mamba Point in Monrovia.

Security checkpoints manned by personnel of the presidential elite force, the Anti Terrorist Unit have been positioned in the enclave hosting the US Embassy, the European Union and other international aid agencies.

Vehicles going in and coming out of the district are subjected to security checks.

No official reason has been given for the redeployment of the troops in the area.

But this comes amid claims that there are plans to attack the motorcade of Liberia’s President Charles Taylor and assassinate him.

Security has also been stepped up in other parts of the capital particularly the road normally used by President Taylor from his Congo Town residence to the Executive Mansion.