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Liberia

Executive Summary

Liberia is a constitutional republic with a bicameral national assembly and a democratically elected government led by President George Manneh Oppong Weah and the political alliance Coalition for Democratic Change. The country held presidential and legislative elections in 2017, which domestic and international observers deemed generally free and fair. The then Montserrado County Senator George Weah won the presidential runoff in December 2017 in an election that was generally considered free and fair. In December 2020 the country held midterm senatorial elections that observers deemed largely peaceful, although there were some reported instances of vote tampering, intimidation, harassment of female candidates, and election violence. Opposition and independent candidates won 12 of the 15 Senate seats contested, according to election results announced by the National Election Commission. On November 16, by-elections for the House of Representatives were held in Bong, Bomi, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh counties to fill vacancies created after the December 2020 midterm senatorial elections. Once again, election observers deemed the proceedings largely peaceful, although there were some reported instances of vote tampering, intimidation, harassment of female candidates, and election violence.

The Liberia National Police maintain internal security, with assistance from the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency and other civilian security forces. The Armed Forces of Liberia are responsible for external security but also have some domestic security responsibilities if called upon. The Liberia National Police and Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency report to the Ministry of Justice, while the Armed Forces of Liberia report to the Ministry of National Defense. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: arbitrary killings by police; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; restrictions on freedom of the press, including violence, intimidation and threats against journalists resulting in self-censorship, and unjustified arrests of journalists; serious government corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting; trafficking in persons; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons; the existence or use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and existence of the worst forms of child labor.

Impunity continued for individuals who committed human rights abuses, including atrocities during the two Liberian civil wars, as multiple investigative and audit reports were ignored. The government made intermittent but limited attempts to investigate and prosecute officials accused of current abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. Impunity continued for government corruption.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future