To the Liberian Government
O Having signed the two major international human rights treaties-the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights-the government should now ratify them. Additionally, the government should sign and ratify the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Optional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions.
Reintegrating Refugees and the Internally Displaced
O No refugees or internally displaced persons should be encouraged or coerced to return to their home areas until the political situation stabilizes and until they feel it is safe enough to return. At this point in time, it is too soon for organized repatriation to begin.
O Rehabilitation of community infrastructures should be promptly undertaken by the Liberian government in order to promote the return and resettlement of displaced populations. When large-scale repatriation becomes viable, a concerted effort must be made to deal in particular with the health and educational needs of returnees. It is likely that refugees and internally displaced persons will be reluctant to return until these services become available in the interior of the country.
O A system of legal assistance should be put in place to deal with the property disputes that may arise when refugees and displaced persons return to their homes of origin to find their property occupied.
O The government should take steps to improve the services and assistance provided to the internally displaced, which are far inferior to those provided to refugees.
O The government should explicitly assign the Liberian Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) responsibility for the internally displaced, as well as refugees, to ensure that the former is not overlooked, since no international agency has an exclusive mandate for the internally displaced. Due to the ambiguity raised by some international agencies about whether the LRRRC has responsibility for dealing with the internally displaced, the Liberian legislature should pass a statute that gives LRRRC an express mandate for the internally displaced, in addition to refugees.
O The Liberian Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) should receive greater logistic and financial support by the government to allow it to carry out effective reintegration plans for returning refugees and internally displaced populations. The government needs to ensure that qualified personnel are hired to staff the LRRRC. As a first step, the LRRRC should clearly define its mission and establish plans and programs for reintegration.
Rebuilding State Institutions
O The government should complete the reconstitution of the judiciary at all levels as soon as possible and allow the judiciary to function independently. The involvement of the National Bar Association in the selection of judicial nominees is an excellent safeguard for ensuring the quality of judicial appointments. The Liberian government should formally incorporate this practice, introduced by the Interim Government during the war, into Liberian law, guided by the U.N. Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.
O The police force should have clear and public directives governing the duties of its officers. Human rights components should be integrated into all levels of the police structure. This should include academy training, subsequent periodic training and review, strict enforcement, and punitive action for violations All appropriate U.N. guidelines should be incorporated into police regulations, including U.N. Basic Principleson the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and the U.N. Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment." All police officers should be made aware of the relevant provisions of the Liberian Constitution, as well as international standards governing the behavior of police. Police should be trained regarding the relevant international standards and Liberian laws that govern arrest, the use of force, and the rights of suspects. There should be public dissemination of information regarding people's criminal procedure rights and the procedure to lodge a complaint against a police officer.
O The existing police force should be screened as soon as possible. Those officers that are linked to human rights abuses that occurred during the war should be dismissed from the police force. Those deemed to be unqualified should be retrained or dismissed.
O Patrol officers should not be armed with firearms, but rather should have batons and radios with which to call for assistance should they encounter violence.
O An independent civilian office or board should be established to monitor the human rights performance of the police and military. This body should also have significant enforcement and investigative authority. Any infringements of the law by police or military officials should be punished by appropriate sanctions.
O The government should as soon as possible bring its detention facilities into conformity with international standards. Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that all prisoners shall be treated with humanity, and that accused persons shall be segregated from convicted persons and given "separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons." Articles 10 and 12 of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners call on governments to ensure that "[a]ll accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodations shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation," and that "sanitary installations shall be adequate to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when necessary and in a clean and decent manner." Steps should be taken to ensure that these minimum standards are implemented.
O Prison officials should receive training from the Rehabilitation Bureau of the Ministry of Justice in the implementation of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Infringement of the rules by prison officials should be punished. All prisons should maintain a log of prisoners in compliance with Rule 7(1) of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners which specifies that information about the identity, reason for arrest, and day and hour or release for each prisoner should be recorded. The log should be available to Ministry of Justice officials, judges, and nongovernmental human rights organizations at their request to ensure that detained criminal suspects are brought before a court within 48 hours, as specified in the Liberian Constitution.
O Prison officials should be responsible for ensuring that prisoners are sent to court within the 48 hour constitutional requirement. Officials found to be ignoring this constitutional requirement should be disciplined. The County Attorney in the Ministry of Justice should also be held accountable for maintaining separate logs of charged and uncharged prisoners. These logs should be available for public inspection.
O No civilians should be detained at any military facility.
O The government's announced Commission on Human Rights should be given the independent authority to investigate, pursue remedies, and make public its findings. The commission should be given the necessary political and financial support to make it an effective and credible body.
Dealing with the Past
O The Liberian government has a duty to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for human rights violations. Article 19 of the Cotonou Peace Accord, that gives immunity to faction fighters for abuses in the course of military action, should not apply to atrocities against civilians, and cannot be used to eliminate Liberia's international human rights obligation to punish abuses committed outside the scope of actual military engagement. Where former combatants have wantonly committed abuses against civilians, they should be held accountable in a court of law.
O The government should create a truth commission, perhaps as part of the commission on reconciliation that President Taylor announced he would form, to collect testimony and evidence regarding violations committed during the course of the war and publicly name and punish those responsible for the acts.
O An inter-ministerial task force should be created by the government to deal specifically with the violence inflicted on women during the war, with the aim of improving the social, medical and legal responses to women's needs. Given the stigma of rape and the reluctance of rape survivors to come forward to seek the assistance they need, the government should pay special attention to this issue. The proposed government task-force should meet on a regular basis, and work closely with nongovernmental women's organizations to improve and coordinate the government's services to women.
O A similar inter-ministerial task force should be created to deal with the effects of war on children: child victims, witnesses, and perpetrators. This task force should determine how best to reintegrate children into their communities, provide education and vocational training suitable for older children, and rehabilitate children who have been victims of atrocities, have witnessed atrocities (sometimes against their own parents), or have themselves taken part in atrocities.
O The Liberian legislature should pass, without delay, the draft bill currently under consideration by the legislature to enact a law that would establish inheritance rights for women married under customary law. Following its enactment, the government should ensure that the law is implemented.
O The government should take steps to address the incomplete demobilization of former combatants. The command structure of many faction battalions continues to operate on the ground, and to pose a potential security/crime problem. The government should provide training or employment opportunities to fighters, particularly child soldiers. Former fighters should be encouraged to return to their home areas and not remain grouped together, where they often constitute an intimidating presence.
O The government should carry out a widespread information and education program to inform communities of the special needs of children affected by the conflict, and should develop a plan for meeting the long-term needs of those children.
To the United Nations
O The U.N. should, as a matter of priority, work with the Liberian government to ensure that the repatriation of the displaced, the rebuilding of state institutions and the reconciliation and accountability process incorporates human rights concerns. The human rights component of the U.N. presence should be strengthened to continue its monitoring and reporting work. The human rights element should also continue to support, strengthen, and work with Liberian human rights groups. Sufficient resources and personnel should be allocated to the human rights unit to function effectively.
O The U.N. Secretariat should publicly release the results of the human rights investigations referred to in progress reports to the Secretary General, and explain what actions were taken based upon those findings.
O If ECOMOG is to restructure and train the new Liberian military, the U.N. should be actively involved to provide oversight and to ensure that the training incorporates information on international human rights and humanitarian law.
O The U.N. Secretariat should work closely with UNDP to ensure that continuing UNDP programs incorporate a human rights component, particularly once UNOMIL's mandate terminates.
O The U.N. Secretariat should seek to consult and cooperate closely with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that human rights concerns are incorporated into U.N. programs in the best possible way.
To the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
O UNHCR should not promote organized repatriation until the political situation stabilizes and basic services are restored by the government. UNHCR should not permit any repatriation plan that would compromise the physical security or welfare of refugees.
O UNHCR should oppose any pressure either from the Liberian government or hosting governments to repatriate Liberian refugees who may fear political or ethnic persecution, particularly those from the Krahn or Mandingo ethnic groups. Refugees who continue to hold a well-founded fear of persecution due to the possibility of reprisals for actions taken by themselves or family members, or due to the actions of Charles Taylor's faction during the war, should be given protection and assistance by UNHCR and the host government. For some segment of the refugee population, resettlement may be the only durable solution.
O Refugees and displaced persons must have a voice in the decision-making surrounding the planning of repatriation. When large-scale repatriation becomes a viable possibility, refugees and displaced persons will need accurate information about conditions in each of their home areas inside the country.
O Refugees and displaced persons should be provided with food aid and agricultural implements and seeds for long-term assistance.
O The repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons must occur in conditions of safety and dignity. An emphasis should be placed upon the monitoring of returnees, to ensure that refugees can return and re-establish themselves in the best possible manner.
O Particular attention should be paid to the protection and assistance needs of unaccompanied children, who because of their mental and physical immaturity are particularly in need of help. UNHCR should work toward reuniting them with their immediate families or relatives, assisting them to return to their communities, and ensuring that they receive rehabilitation opportunities and education to return them to normal lives.
O Similarly, the particular needs of women should be taken into consideration. UNHCR should ensure that appropriate medical care is provided to refugee women and girls, with attention to female rape survivors. UNHCR should monitor and assist returning refugee women who head households to regain their property, which may be occupied by former fighters or others. Due to discriminatory customary law rules, returning refugee women married under customary law are ineligible to inherit their husband's property. UNHCR should support the pending legislation that will reverse this unconstitutional practice.
O Although UNHCR does not have a mandate to deal with the internally displaced populations in Liberia, UNHCR programs should as much as possible strive to provide community-based services that the internally displaced can also benefit from.
O UNHCR should continue to monitor closely the protection needs of Liberian refugees in neighboring African countries. Greater efforts should be made by UNHCR to provide legal and material assistance to these refugees. In particular, the protection needs of refugees in Guinea should be monitored and addressed, especially as the security situation there appears to be worsening. Greater emphasis should be placed on informing the Guinean authorities of their responsibilities toward the refugees, including those who have legitimate reasons for fearing return at this early stage.
To the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
In light of the prevailing conditions in Liberia, UNDP will need to work innovatively, and vary from its traditional approach. Given the widespread human rights violations that took place during the war, and the wide scale population displacement, UNDP programs will need to be prepared to deal with the inevitable human rights issues that will arise during the rebuilding process. UNDP plans to contribute to the process of reintegrating the internally displaced and to governance programs in Liberia. Both of these areas will need to include a strong human rights component.
O In light of the absence of other international and national organizations working to reintegrate the internally displaced in Liberia, UNDP can fill a critical gap by taking responsibility for this population. In undertaking to provide assistance and protection to the internally displaced, UNDP needs to be willing to advocate on their behalf, and, if need be, challenge premature reintegration plans or other abuses against them.
O UNDP's governance program should not be restricted to providing technical or logistic equipment to the Liberian government. The governance program should also be actively responsible for advocating the integration of international human rights standards into the structure of the new justice institutions, and for the creation of government mechanisms that can operate to ensure respect for human rights throughout the society.
O A human rights focal point should be created within UNDP's Liberia office to ensure that UNDP programs incorporate a strong human rights component where necessary.
O UNDP should consult and cooperate with the Liberian nongovernmental human rights organization and seek ways to support and strengthen this sector.
To the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and
the ECOWAS Cease-Fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG)
O Given ECOMOG's own record of human rights violations, graft, and support for some of the warring factions during the war, it should not be responsible for restructuring and retraining the new Liberian military unless the training is under active U.N. oversight and unless it incorporates information regarding relevant international and Liberian laws pertaining to the proper conduct of military action.
O ECOMOG commanding officers should ensure that soldiers under their command respect human rights for the remainder of their stay in Liberia.
O All weapons and ammunition confiscated by ECOMOG during the demobilization exercise should be destroyed.
To Donor Nations including the European Union and United States
O Donor governments should follow the situation in Liberia closely and call on the Taylor government to incorporate human rights protections in the rebuilding process. Donor governments should continue to raisethe issue of accountability to ensure that the government does not evade its responsibility to address past and continuing injustices.
O Donors should condition aid on respect for human rights. In particular, there is a need for the government to create and enforce the rule of law and mechanisms of accountability.
O Donor governments should seek to support and strengthen the local nongovernmental human rights community.
O Donor governments should urge that U.N. programs in Liberia contain a strong human rights component.
O The United States, as a chief partner in the retraining of the Liberian Police Force, should ensure that human rights issues are incorporated in the police academy training, subsequent periodic training and review. The U.S. should call for the creation of an independent civilian office or board to monitor the human rights performance of the police. This body should also have significant enforcement, investigative, and punitive authority.