News / Africa

    Rights Group: Liberia Fails to Stop Cross-Border Mercenary Attacks

    Anne Look
    Human Rights Watch says mercenaries in eastern Liberia are running deadly cross-border raids into Ivory Coast and recruiting child soldiers.  The international rights group reports Liberia has failed to investigate and prosecute Liberian and Ivorian fighters who set up camp in Liberia after committing atrocities during the 2011 post-election crisis in Ivory Coast.

    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at International Criminal Court (file photo)Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at International Criminal Court (file photo)
    x
    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at International Criminal Court (file photo)
    Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at International Criminal Court (file photo)
    As former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo awaits his first hearing on charges of crimes against humanity this month at the Hague, Human Rights Watch says pro-Gbagbo mercenaries continue to run deadly raids into western Ivory Coast.

    Gbagbo lost a November 2010 presidential election, but refused to step down, sparking a nationwide conflict that killed 3,000 people.  Ivorian militiamen and Liberian mercenaries who fought on the Gbagbo side took refuge in eastern Liberia.

    Human Rights Watch says those fighters, motivated by revenge and disputes over land rights, have waged four cross-border attacks in the past year that have killed at least 40 people, including children.  A new HRW report says the attackers are targeting ethnic communities believed to support current Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara.

    HRW Ivory Coast researcher, Matthew Wells, said Human Rights Watch interviewed members of a core group of 100 to 150 fighters who are planning and carrying out the attacks.  

    "The mercenaries and militiamen made clear that their ambitions are much larger and that they plan to conduct additional attacks throughout the rest of this year and beyond," Wells said.

    Wells said their level of organization was particularly concerning.

    "They have set up around gold mines along the border of Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia.  They are using the money from gold mining to fund recruitment and mobilization to conduct additional cross-border attacks into Cote d'Ivoire.  They also told us they are receiving money from individuals in Ghana, which is where much of the pro-Gbagbo military and political elite remain to again finance these attacks," Wells said.  

    Human Rights Watch said mercenaries are recruiting Liberian children as young as 14 into their ranks.

    Since the Ivory Coast conflict ended in April 2011, Liberian authorities have detained more than 100 Liberians and Ivorians suspected of mercenary activity.  But Human Rights Watch says many have been released.  In an investigation published in December 2011, the U.N. Panel of Experts on Ivory Coast said many more fighters were thought to have entered Liberia and evaded authorities.

    Human Rights Watch says among those released by Liberian authorities have been two commanders suspected by both the United Nations and Human Rights Watch of war crimes and human-rights abuses during the 2011 crisis.

    Wells said the cross-border raids are a threat to regional stability, and Liberia needs to "get its head out the sand."

    "These people are often just crossing in the middle of the night attacking a village and then going back to Liberia so the solution really has to come more from the Liberia side than from the Ivorian side because all of this planning is being done in Liberia," Wells said.

    Dense vegetation and the sheer expanse of Liberia's 700-kilometer border with Ivory Coast make it difficult to patrol.

    Human Rights Watch says on at least one occasion, Liberian authorities tried to intervene to stop a cross-border attack.  The group says  Liberian security forces arrested 76 Ivorian and Liberian fighters, but the men were later released for lack of evidence.

    Human Rights Watch says Liberian authorities have routinely failed to follow through on investigations and prosecutions of suspected mercenaries, despite provisions in the nation's penal code that would allow them to do so.

    Liberia's Information Minister, Lewis Brown, said he disagrees with the report's findings.  He said the government is well aware of the risks these armed groups pose to Ivory Coast and Liberia, and is taking appropriate action.  

    "There is a high level of commitment and engagement from either side to rid our border, our vast border, of the presence of non-state actors," Brown said.

    The minister said Liberian and Ivorian forces as well as the U.N. peacekeeping missions to both countries would "very shortly" begin participating in joint exercises to further secure the border area.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora