Taylor's Liberia remains focus of critics

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afrol News, 2 May - In his first report on Liberia, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan does not outline any significant improvements in the country; contacts with the Sierra Leonean terrorists are still intact. Meanwhile, Amnesty International documents "rampant torture" by government troops. Nothing seems to halt the imposure of UN sanctions on 7 May.

President Charles Taylor's Liberia is heading for international sanctions after the country is seen to be responsible for much of the warfare in the region, especially by supporting rebels/terrorists in Sierra Leone (RUF) and Guinea. 

On 7 March, the UN Security Council resolved that, unless it decides otherwise, sanctions against Liberia would go into effect on 7 May. The resolution called on Liberia to expel all RUF members, cease financial and military support for the movement, stop importing uncertified Sierra Leonean diamonds, freeze funds for the RUF and update its aircraft registry.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on this background delivered his first report to the Security Council on Liberia's compliance with Council demands for an immediate end to Monrovia's ties with a Sierra Leone rebel group. Annan in the report "strongly" suggested that the international community remain engaged with Liberia and its people, whatever course of action the Council chooses to follow. 

- External pressure without dialogue may not have a lasting impact on a country that is battling its own armed insurgency and is mired in deep political, economic and social problems, Kofi Annan writes in the just released report.

The UN Secretary-General notes that Liberia provided the UN and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) - which dispatched a fact-finding mission in April - with detailed information on its activity to implement the Council demands. He observes, however, that in the absence of an independent verification mechanism it is difficult to ascertain the "veracity or otherwise of that information."

Mr. Annan also writes that the Security Council may wish to follow-up on the ECOWAS suggestion that the UN deploy observers to the Liberian border with Sierra Leone to monitor activity there and notes that he shares ECOWAS' dismay at the "untidy manner" in which the Government handled the expulsion of RUF members. 

The Secretary-General adds that unverified information reaching the UN Secretariat indicates that Sam Bockarie, an RUF member, is still living in Liberia and that the Government has not severed its relations with RUF in Sierra Leone. 

Mr. Annan concludes by urging the Security Council to continue to work with ECOWAS to avoid a rift that could be "exploited by the enemies of peace in a region that has seen more than its share of suffering."

Meanwhile, an Amnesty International report, released on Monday, documents the repressions on Charles Taylor's regime inside Liberia. In the report "Liberia: War in Lofa County does not justify killing,
torture and abduction," Amnesty called on the Liberian government immediately to end abductions of women, children and other civilians and "the Liberian government's rampant torture and killings of unarmed citizens suspected of supporting the rebels coming from Guinea."

Amnesty also called ont the international community to "act urgently to stop those abuses." Although internal human rights abuses were not the basis for the UN sanctions, they are a related topic, as they originate from the same regional conflict, which Liberia is believed to fuel. The rebels in Liberia's Lofa County are believed to be supported by Guinea and Sierra Leone. 

Following the publication in December 2000 of a UN report containing evidence of Liberian military support to the RUF and illicit trade of diamonds from RUF-held areas through Liberia, the UN Security Council on 7 March 2001, reiterated the 1992 ban on arms transfers to Liberia. 

It also introduced a new ban on diamond exports from Liberia and travel for senior officials. The ban is due to come into effect on 7 May 2001, unless Liberia complies with the UN Security Council's demands. These include ceasing military support to the RUF, expelling RUF members from Liberia and stopping the import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone.

Source: Based on UN sources, Amnesty International and afrol archives Texts and graphics may be reproduced freely, under the condition that their origin is clearly referred to, see Conditions.

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