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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs