News / Africa

    Report: Rampant Police Corruption Harms Liberia's Progress

    Liberian riot policeman in the capital Monrovia, (File photo).
    Liberian riot policeman in the capital Monrovia, (File photo).
    Reuters
    Rampant police corruption is impeding Liberia's development a decade after its 14-year civil war ended, and abuses should be reined in as the United Nations scales back its presence in the West African country, Human Rights Watch said.
     
    Underpaid and inadequately supplied, Liberian police officers demand bribes at every stage of an investigation, the human rights group said on Thursday in a new report, “No Money, No Justice”.
     
    They extort money from taxi drivers and motorcyclists and steal from street vendors, while criminal suspects routinely pay bribes to get released, the report said.
     
    The United Nations, citing a lack of professionalism and resources in the police force, recommended in February that the government allocate more resources to law enforcement to ensure that Liberia's security sector gains the trust of its citizens and can operate independently once the U.N. mission withdraws.
     
    “Improving the criminal justice system, addressing impunity for crimes and increasing access to justice and security services for all Liberians remain particularly important for the consolidation of peace,” the U.N. Mission in Liberia said in its report to the Security Council.
     
    U.N. peacekeepers went into Liberia in 2003 to stabilize the country after years of civil war led to a collapse of the state. It was carved up by warlords who used child soldiers to fight over control of diamond and timber concessions.
     
    After 10 years of peacekeeping efforts, the United Nations is gradually drawing down its troops in Liberia from about 8,000 to 3,750 by July 2015.
     
    “Liberians have had all too many years of chaos and violence. A professional police force is critical to uphold people's rights and create a rights-respecting society,” said Corinne Dufka, Human Rights Watch's senior West Africa researcher.
     
    Major public enemy
     
    The group called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's government to establish a civilian oversight board, immediately investigate resource shortages in the police force, improve the system for reporting police abuse and strengthen the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, which struggles to get convictions.
     
    The report was based on interviews with 120 people and 35 police officers of all ranks. In one account, a resident of the capital, Monrovia, said that the elite Police Support Unit came to his home, kicked him, held his wife at gunpoint and stole money she had hidden in her bra.
     
    When Johnson Sirleaf took office in 2006, she called corruption “the major public enemy”. Her administration has made some progress in improving arrest procedures and addressing violence against women, Human Rights Watch said.
     
    But corruption and abuses persist, denying ordinary Liberians access to justice and money to support their families and frustrating the attempts of people trying to rebuild their lives after the war that killed more than 200,000 people and displaced another million, it said.
     
    In the report, the police expressed their own frustration over inadequate supplies, low salaries and pressure to pay their superiors to obtain desirable posts and promotions.
     
    “They come crying to you and you don't even have a drop of gas,” the report quoted one officer as saying when describing the difficulty of traveling to a crime scene. “We are not supposed to ask someone for money, but because you don't have [gas], we ask the person for money to go.”
     
    “These actions violate Liberians' rights under international and national law and undermine public trust in the Liberia National Police,” Dufka said.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.