Liberia ALERT: Human rights defenders under siege

The President of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Dempster Browne, was on Tuesday, October 29 arrested in Monrovia, while the search is on for Aloysius Toe, Secretary General of the Coalition. The head of the National Human Rights Center, Blamoh Sieh, is also in detention for his alleged links with Mr Toe.

According to the Ministry of Justice, attorney Browne is being held for calling on Liberians to join a peaceful march in solidarity with journalist Hassan Bility and others detained for their alleged links with the LURD rebels. President Charles Taylor had, on Monday, October 28, warned that anyone joining the solidarity march would be “dealt with severely.”

Aloysius Toe is said to be wanted because documents allegedly linking him to the LURD rebels were found in his home. His wife was arrested and detained but later released. President Taylor on Monday promised to transfer Bility and his colleagues to the custody of the Liberia Muslim Council, warning however, that “the prisoners are not released but will be monitored” to ensure that they did not “cause problems or leave the country.”

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is concerned about the persistent violations of the freedom of expression rights of Liberians by the government of Mr Taylor. We appeal to the government to release the detainees without condition, and to respect the fundamental rights of citizens in the country. The MFWA calls on you to kindly protest the arrest and detention of Dempster Browne and Blamoh Sieh and other forms of human rights abuses being perpetrated by Charles Taylor’s government.

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