Liberia: President Obama Should Pressure Liberia to Establish Human Rights Commission

Press Release
May 26, 2010

Liberia: President Obama Should Pressure Liberia to Establish Human Rights Commission

President Obama Should Pressure Liberia to Establish Human Rights Commission

26, May 2010

Amnesty International USA calls on the Obama Administration to take the opportunity during Thursday’s meeting with Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to discuss the state of human rights in Liberia, and in particular, to urge the Liberian government to accelerate the establishment of the Independent National Human Rights Commission.

The 2003 Accra Peace Agreement, which brought Liberia’s years of armed conflict to an end, called upon the Liberian government to create an Independent National Human Rights Commission, and in 2005, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights Act was passed into law. Five years later, the government and parliament still have not established a human rights commission in Liberia.

Presidents Obama and Johnson-Sirleaf should take this opportunity to discuss the crucial role the Liberian administration can and must play in ensuring justice, accountability, and respect for the human rights of all Liberians. President Johnson-Sirleaf must turn the promise of the Commission into tangible action.

While plans to establish the commission remain in limbo, the country has experienced ongoing violence and internecine conflict, striking deficiencies in judiciary, police, and corrections operations, vigilante justice, and high incidence of rape of women and girls. The Commission would be designed to address these problems and help reduce the incidence of human rights abuses.

Amnesty International believes that the Liberian government should make the establishment of such a commission a top priority. Furthermore, the government should ensure the success of the Commission by making public the official budget and time frame for vetting commissioners, by involving civil society in this process, and by ensuring transparency at all stages of the process.