- Sexual violence is believed to have affected around two-thirds of Liberia's female population as a result of the civil war. No single person has yet been prosecuted for this enormous war crime. Human rights groups now demand that there shall be "no impunity for rape" in Liberia.
Amnesty International today insisted that the perpetrators of widespread and systematic rape during Liberia's civil war must be brought to justice. "Thousands of women and girls have suffered rape and other forms of sexual violence, yet, more than a year on from the signing of a peace agreement, no one has been prosecuted and it remains unclear if, how and when those responsible will ever face justice," the group said.
- This impunity is a disgraceful betrayal of the victims of what are crimes against humanity and war crimes, Amnesty added. The human rights group made this statement in connection with the launching of its new report titled "Liberia: No impunity for rape - a crime against humanity and a war crime". The strong report describes through harrowing testimonies the sexual violence which is believed to have affected around two-thirds of the population.
The report also shows the physical, psychological and social consequences of such violence. "Lasting peace will not be achieved in Liberia unless those responsible for crimes under international law are held criminally responsible, truth is established and victims obtain full reparations," Amnesty commented.
Liberia's current national transitional government is said to have "no policy to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes under international law." Neither had there been any expression of resolute commitment by the international community to end impunity for such crimes in Liberia, the human rights group holds.
Testimonies given to Amnesty during the research of sexual war crimes in Liberia are heavy reading. A 29-year-old woman from Bomi County said: "I was pregnant and running away from the camp near St Paul bridge. Three government soldiers caught me and raped me. They beat me and my unborn baby died. All my belongings were stolen."
The systematic rape and other forms of sexual violence revealed by testimonies of Liberian women include gang-rape and rape of pregnant women and children. These war crimes were committed by combatants of all three parties to the conflict: the former government of Liberia, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia.
Liberian health facilities are currently unable to cope with the physical injuries and psychological trauma resulting from rape and other forms of sexual violence on a massive scale, according to the report. "The protection of the rights of women and girls must be at the centre of all efforts to rebuild Liberia," Amnesty demanded.
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