HRW urges new Liberia president to investigate civil war atrocities

HRW urges new Liberia president to investigate civil war atrocities

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged [press release] Liberia’s new president George Weah [Britannica profile] in a letter [text] Monday to investigate and prosecute atrocities committed during Liberia’s recent civil wars.

Liberia experienced civil war from 1989-1996 and 1999-2003. HRW reports that during the civil wars, “Liberian citizens were subjected to horrific abuses including summary executions; numerous large-scale massacres; widespread and systematic rape and other forms of sexual violence; mutilation and torture; and large-scale forced conscription and use of child combatants,” perpetuated by all sides of the conflict. The letter goes on to state that while Liberia has “taken steps towards truth-telling” nothing has been done to punish those responsible.

HRW advocated for the Liberian government to establish an independent investigative committee. Other recommendations included creating a hybrid criminal court to prosecute international crimes, funding programs for victims, and guaranteeing protection for human rights defenders.

Elise Keppler [official bio], the Associate Director of HRW’s International Justice Program, said “The countless victims of the unspeakable crimes committed in Liberia deserve justice for what they have suffered.”

Those responsible for the atrocities committed during the civil wars have not faced prosecution in Liberia, but some have been tried in the US, Switzerland, Belgium and the UK.