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New Liberian leader vows to punish rapists during her presidency

[JURIST] Liberia's president-elect [JURIST report] Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf [BBC profile], soon to becomethe first female president of an African state, vowed Monday that all rapists will be appropriately punished during her presidency according to a new law. The country's parliament passed legislation Thursday making individual rapes illegal for the first time in Liberia [JURIST news archive]. Rapists can be sentenced to between seven years in jail and life imprisonment under the new bill and accused rapists will not be entitled to post bail. The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia proposed the legislation after rape and sexual assault cases were increasingly being documented. Last week, a Nigerian UN peacekeeper was arrested on allegations that he raped a nine-year old child; Liberian police officers wanted to prosecute under the new Liberian law, but a senior Nigerian military commander said he would instead face charges under Nigerian Army and civil laws, and UN laws. Earlier this year, a UN investigation revealed 20 reports of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers [JURIST report] in Liberia. IRIN has more.

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