Liberia: Crackdown On Gbagbo Loyalists in Ivory Coast

Source: The Informer (Monrovia)

A New York based Human Rights organization, Human Rights Watch, has cautioned the security sector of both the Liberian and the Ivorian Governments to avoid abusive crackdown on perceived dissidents, and to ensure that the due process of law takes its course.

According to News agency report, the Liberian government should on the other hand be commended for swiftly undertaking criminal investigations on suspects, with a view to prosecuting or extraditing armed men alleged to be involved in cross-border attacks in the Ivory Coast on June 8, 2012 in which 7 United Nations Peace Keepers and at least 17 people were killed in the western part of that country.

The prompt and robust security measures instituted by Liberia’s National; Security Council on Saturday June 9th barely a day after the ambush and killing of seven Niger peace-keepers of the United Nations peacekeeping troops in the Ivory Coast and about seventeen civilians near the border area included the closure of the Liberian side of the border.

It was necessary that the Liberian government do something, at least to give the impression to the international community that they have no hidden hands in the planning and the attack on that country.

Other measures included the suspension of artisan gold mining and cross border trade activities, the re-location of refugee camps away from the border area; except for the transport of humanitarian items such as food and medicines.

The Liberian government made it clear that it will not allow any dissidence activities on Liberian soil, given the experiences of the 14 years rebel conflict that this country had passed through recently.

Human Rights Watch however took exception to the slowness in the Liberian government’s investigation of one of the ten wanted Ivoirian dissidents by the name of Chegbo, a pro-Gbagbo loyalist that is said to have been involved in serious criminal activities in the Ivory Coast and hotly wanted by the Ivoirian Government, which may be a cause for them to point accusing fingers on the Liberian government.

But in their defense, Liberia’s Information Minister Lewis Brown has indicated that they are conscious of the rights of suspects and this is why they are treating the investigation in a very professional way to ensure that the rights of the accused are not abused. But once the investigations of the 41 suspects are completed, those found wanting will be prosecuted and extradition proceedings taken to turn them over to the Ivoirian authorities.

The alarm raised by Human Rights Watch concerns suspicions that a lot of those arrested, harassed and detained by the Ivoirian security forces for reasons of rebel activities are perceived Gbagbo loyalists over whom government lacks sufficient proofs to substantiate their claims. The security and human rights situations have been worse in that country since June 12th when the country’s Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko announced an abortive coup plot on state television involving pro-Gbagbo political and ex-military loyalists.

According to Human Rights Watch Report, there is mounting concern that the accused coup plotters will not get a speedy and fair trial from the Government of President Alassane Ouattara.

Several of the suspects detained by the Ivoirian government have been complaining of severe harassment and inhumane treatment as the crackdown continues, while declaring their innocence in any attempt to topple the government, or any connection with the rebel activities in the western part of the country.


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