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Liberia Welcomes UN Sanctions Removal

  • James Butty

FILE - Liberia Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan.

FILE - Liberia Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan.

Liberia said Wednesday it welcomes a decision by the United Nations Security Council to terminate sanctions, including a travel ban and asset freeze on certain individuals who had been deemed a danger to the stability of the country.

In a resolution adopted Wednesday, the council urged the Liberian government to take further steps to combat the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition by implementing an effective legal framework.

Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan told VOA it has always been the Liberian government’s position for the Security Council to periodically review the sanctions list. He said Liberia wants all its citizens and partners to contribute to the peace and progress of the nation.

“The general government position to the U.N. has been that the sanction list, travel ban and assets freeze list should not be kept in full, that relevant information needs to be evaluated and to the extent that information will point to the lifting of sanctions or a ban on an individual, that the UN should do so. Liberia wants all its citizens and partners to be contributive of the peace and progress of the nation," he said.

Ngafuan said Liberia will continue to work with the United Nations and all partners to ensure that the country’s peace and security are not jeopardized going forward.

But he said it’s not the Liberian government’s policy to push for assets freeze or travel ban, particularly in a case where an individual or individuals are no longer a threat to the peace and stability of the country.

In Wednesday’s Security Council Resolution 2237, the U.N. body said: “The individuals and entities on the 1521 Sanctions list immediately prior to the adoption of 2237 (2015) are no longer subject to travel and financial measures set forth in paragraph 4 of resolution 1521 (2003) and paragraph 1 of resolution 1532 (2004) and their names have been removed from the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List.”

In July 2012, the council delisted 17 aides of former Liberian president Charles Taylor at the request of the Liberian government, ending nine years of isolation for those it is believed contributed to atrocities during Liberia’s civil war or those who watched and did nothing. Among those taken off the sanctions list in 2012 were three of Taylor’s wives or former wives -- Agnes Reeves Taylor, Tupee Taylor and Jewel Howard Taylor.

In 2014, businessman Benoni Urey, currently a candidate for the 2017 Liberian presidential elections, was also removed from the list.

But Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP), who served as head of the country’s lucrative Bureau of Maritime Affairs during the Taylor presidency, told VOA last month he’s still under U.S. Treasury Department sanctions.

He said he has written the U.S. government to remove the ban since it was based on U.N. sanctions that have now been lifted.

Foreign Minister Ngafuan said while all countries, including the United States, have their own policies and requirements, Liberia has met with and told U.S. officials that things like sanctions and assets freezes and travel bans need to be reviewed regularly based on their own information.

“What we say is that it is not helpful to keep these things stuck in history and not review them because people can transition. So we say that if someone has transitioned in attitude from negative to positive, action should be taken to reflect that transition,” Ngafuan said.

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