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HRW: Liberia police corruption poses serious threat to justice

Widespread police corruption in Liberia is denying Liberians equal and impartial justice and impeding the country's postwar development, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Thursday. HRW based its report on conversations with more than 120 victims of police corruption and examination of multiple criminal activities committed by corrupt police officers, ranging from charging crime victims for every stage of an investigation to extorting goods from street vendors. According to HRW, anti-corruption institutions like the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) [official website] are weak and manage to obtain few convictions in corruption cases. HRW urged the Liberian government to combat police corruption by establishing a civilian oversight board and immediately investigating the serious resource shortfalls in the national police.

In recent years Liberia has been criticized for its poor human rights record. In February 2010 the UN emphasized [JURIST report] that reconciliation in Liberia hinges on the development of its national security and its legal institutions. A UN report issued in April 2008 examined [JURIST report] Liberia's struggles with corruption in its criminal justice system, poor detention conditions, and sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and forced marriage. In November 2006 the UN Independent Expert on the promotion and protection of human rights in Liberia urged [JURIST report] the Liberian government to press ahead with its Truth and Reconciliation Commission and appoint members to its Independent National Commission on Human Rights.

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