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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More