News24

Liberia shocked by HRW report

2012-06-07 14:45

Monrovia - Liberia's government on Thursday said it was shocked by a report from Human Rights Watch that accused it of ignoring cross-border attacks against neighbouring Ivory Coast.

In a statement, Information Minister Lewis Brown said the two countries had been working together to solve the problem and were planning a joint cross-border operation soon.

He said the government was "shocked by a report from the Human Rights Watch in which it is alleged that the government is not doing enough to contain cross-border attacks from Liberia into Ivory Coast".

The HRW report said supporters of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo had recruited children in Liberia to launch deadly border-cross raids over the past year against the government of Alassane Ouattara.

The group said at least 40 people were killed in those raids since July 2011.

The attackers were primarily Liberians and Ivorians who fought with Gabgbo's forces during a post-election crisis, HRW said.

"For well over a year, the Liberian government has had its head in the sand in responding to the flood of war criminals who crossed into the country at the end of the Ivorian crisis," said Matt Wells, West Africa researcher at HRW.

The government "strongly denied" this and said there were numerous initiatives between the two countries and the United Nations missions in each nation, "to eliminate the threats of insecurity to both countries" along the border.

"Liberia has no incentive to either threaten its neighbours or encourage attacks against other countries," said Brown.

He said high-level meetings between the two countries had led to a decision that "a joint-security cross border operation involving the relevant authorities of the two countries and the UN military missions in both countries is to be carried out shortly".

Forces loyal to Gbagbo fled into the bush and neighbouring Liberia when the ex-strongman was captured in April 2011, ending a deadly months-long battle for power with Ouattara following disputed 2010 polls.

Ouattara, with Western backing, was eventually sworn in as president while Gbagbo, who ruled the world's top cocoa producer for a decade, is being held at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.