Liberia

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Persistent violations
  • Discrimination against women and girls[1]
  • Female genital mutilation[2]
  • Forced and early marriage[3]
  • Violence against children, including gender-based violence and domestic violence[4]
  • Sexual violence against, and abuse of, children, particularly girls[5]
  • Discrimination against children with disabilities[6]
  • Discrimination with regards to nationality[7]
  • Inadequate education provision, particularly affecting girls and vulnerable groups of children[8]
  • Inadequate health care provision, particularly for women children and in rural areas[9]
  • Economic exploitation of children, including child labour[10]
  • Inadequate juvenile justice system and lack of implementation of relevant legislation[11]
  • Overuse of, and poor conditions in, alternative care for children[12]
  • Recruitment of children to be soldiers and inadequate demobilisation and rehabilitation[13]
  • Trafficking of children, including with the cooperation with orphanages and adoption agencies[14]
  • Inadequate response to asylum-seeking and refugee children[15]
  • Inequality in access to HIV and AIDS testing and treatment[16]
  • Incompatibility of customary law with children's rights[17]
  • Children living and working on the streets[18]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Independent Expert on technical cooperation and advisory services in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Independent Expert on technical cooperation and advisory services in Liberia, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee no the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Independent Expert on technical and advisory services in Liberia, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Independent Expert on technical cooperation and advisory services in Liberia, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on technical cooperation and advisory services in Liberia, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on technical cooperation and advisory services in Liberia, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia
  14. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia, Universal Periodic Review
  15. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on technical cooperation and advisory services in Liberia, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia
  16. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia
  17. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia
  18. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Liberia



Introduction

Located on the Atlantic coast of Africa, Liberia shares a border with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. Late twentieth century Liberia suffered through a military coup and two bloody civil wars, but 2005 and 2011 saw the first relatively peaceful elections in decades for a political system largely modelled on that used in the United States. During the period of civil war, Liberia was the site of human rights abuses on a vast scale, the impact of which is still being dealt with. While the situation has improved greatly since then, discrimination against women, minorities and LGBT people, abuses by police and the persistence of harmful traditional practices remain serious problems.

Geography

Liberia is located on the Atlantic coast of Africa and shares borders with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire. The country has a varied landscape made up of mangrove forests along its coast, a plateau of dried grasslands and a substantial portion of the Upper Guinean rain-forest. The capital is Monrovia, named in honour of US President Monroe, who was an advocate for the creation of the country.

Population and language

Liberia is home to 4.1 million people. The population decreased rapidly in the 1990s as many were killed in the civil war or fled the country, but has begun to rise rapidly and has doubled over the past 25 years. The growth rate has now slowed significantly, but is still more than 3 per cent per annum[1]. Despite the country's history as a colony for liberated slaves, only 5 per cent of the population are descendants of former slaves, the vast majority of Liberians are of indigenous African descent.

The national language is English, but around 16 ethnic dialects are spoken.

History and politics

Liberia has a unique history in Africa, as it has no direct connection with the European “scramble for Africa”. The country was formed when liberated slaves, with the aid of the United States, colonised the Pepper Coast in 1820s, and declared their independence in 1847. Relative stability ensued for the next 140 years, but in 1980 Samual Doe seized power in a military coup, and triggered a particularly bloody period in Liberian history.

In 1989, the country descended into a civil war that lasted until 1996. During the period it is estimated that 250,000 Liberians were killed, 460,000 became internally displaced, and 350,000 sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Charles Taylor, a militia leader and the leader of National Patriotic Front, was elected President in 1997 and led the country through a second civil war in 1999. Mr Taylor lost power in 2003 and is currently on trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone accused of crimes against humanity[2].

In March 2003 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led peace talks in Ghana culminating in a peace accord between Liberia's warring factions. A transitional government was instituted who, with the aid of a substantial UN integrated Mission (UNMIL), managed to achieve sufficient stability to hold democratic elections in 2005. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf emerged from the elections as the President, and the first women in Africa to hold a national presidency. She went on to win the Nobel Peace prize in 2011 for her efforts in the country.

President Sirleaf was re-elected in November 2011 in a run-off election[3], but the election was mired in controversy. Winston Tubman, the only other candidate, advised his supporters not to vote, alleging corruption, but local sources monitoring the elections did not find any reports of major electoral irregularities[4].

Political and legal systems

The political system is modelled on that of the United States of America, with a National Assembly divided into a Senate and a House of Representatives, and a President as head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Eleven parties are currently represented in the National Assembly, the largest of which are the Unity Party, the Liberty Party, the Congress for Democratic Change and the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia[5].

The Liberian legal system is modelled on the Anglo-American system of Common law combined with local customary law. The Constitution is the country's supreme law, with legislation, statutes, customary law and judicial precedent all playing a subordinate role. The Supreme Court is tasked with determining the constitutionality of legal rules[6].

Economy

Liberia is rich in natural resources, including gold, diamonds, iron ore and timber. The country's extensive rubber plantations are also a significant source of export revenue. A history of economic mismanagement alongside international economic sanctions devastated the national economy, and left poor records as to government spending. UN sanctions were lifted in 2006 and 2007, however, which has allowed for a degree of recovery[7].

Media

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has rated Liberia 84th out of 178 countries surveyed in its 2010 World Report on Press Freedom, a situation that it has identified as “satisfactory”. In the run up to the 2011 elections, however, RWB has highlighted increasing violence and intimidation affecting journalists[8].

Children's rights

During the armed conflict in Liberia, there were severe and widespread violations of human rights, many of which affected children. Children were directly involved in the conflict as soldiers, as well as victims of widespread sexual abuse and torture. The majority of schools were destroyed during the hostilities, and many doctors and health professionals fled the country, which left health and education services in a poor condition.

  1. UNDESA Population Statistics 2011
  2. Special Court for Sierra Leone, Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor
  3. Liberian National Election Committee, 2011 Election Results
  4. See BBC, " Liberia's Sirleaf seeks re-election amid Tubman boycott" November 2011, and The Guardian, "Liberia presidential election thrown into chaos by opposition's boycott call" 6 november 2011 and "Liberia's presidential runoff takes place amid confusion over call for boycott" 8 november 2011
  5. Foreign and Commonwealth Country Profile: Liberia
  6. Hauser Global Law School Programme, GlobaLex. Hanatu Kabba, "A Guide to the Liberia Legal System and Legal Research"
  7. supra. 5
  8. Reporters Without Borders, "Violence and intimidation against media in run-up to second round election" 20 October 2011

Sources:


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