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Misuse Of Firearm…UN Cites Reason; Renews Arms Embargo

The United Nations Security Council has renewed arms embargo on Liberia indicating that the “misuse of firearms” against civilians in August 2014 as reason for the decision.

 

In its report, the Council cited the shooting in West Point by state security forces against peaceful protestors during which a 15-year-old boy, Shakie Kamara, sustained serious bullet wound and subsequently died at a local hospital as a result of profuse bleeding.

Two other victims from the same community sustained severe wounds. Following an investigation by the Independent National Commission on Human Rights of the 20 August 2014 shooting which resulted to the death of a 15-year-old boy, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on 10 November 2014 ordered that five government soldiers be punished for having fired shots into a crowd protesting the Ebola-related quarantine of the West Point neighborhood of Monrovia.

The UN arms embargo on Liberia is renewed for a period of nine months. It can be recalled that the arms embargo was first imposed with resolution 1521 in 2003 and was modified with resolution 1903 in 2009.

The Security Council also renews for nine months the targeted travel ban initially imposed with resolution 1521. The draft resolution further reaffirms the asset freeze on former president Charles Taylor, his family and associates imposed by resolution 1532 in 2004, which is not time limited.

The draft resolution also renews the mandate of the Panel of Experts for a period of ten months, with an update to the Committee due no later than 23 April 2015 and a final report due by 1 August 2015.

The UNSC observed that in terms of accountability, this represents a change in course for the government, as the military had previously conducted an internal inquiry and cleared itself entirely of responsibility for the incident.

On 13 November 2014, President Sirleaf announced an end to the state of emergency imposed in August in response to the Ebola outbreak. The measures had included a curfew, the closing of schools, restrictions on freedom of movement and the quarantine of certain communities.

On 18 November 2014, the two Houses of the Legislature agreed on 16 December 2014 as the date for holding the Senate elections originally scheduled for 14 October 2014.

Soon after that, the National Elections Commission announced that the campaign period would officially begin on 20 November 2014.    

The Council identified two specific areas which remain a problem in Liberia: the proper management of arms and ammunition by the Liberian government, including enacting a necessary legislative framework and effective monitoring and management of the border regions between Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.

“These recurring issues had been previously highlighted in the Secretary-General's assessment of the Liberia sanctions regime conveyed to the Council on 29 September 2014 and in the final report of the Panel of Experts.

The draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to provide an update to the Council by 1 August 2015 on progress made by the Government of Liberia with regard to arms and ammunition management and border control.

The draft resolution, which renews the arms embargo for a period of nine months, followed a report of the UN panel of experts on Liberia. Resolution 1521 was imposed in 2003, and since then, it has been renewed every other year.

The draft resolution explicitly signals that the Council's intent to keep the sanctions regime under review in order to modify or lift all, or lift part of the measures.  

The UN said its draft resolution was put out on December 3, 2014 following a meeting at the expert level. The document entitled: “Liberia Sanctions Adoption, Consultations and UNMIL TCC meeting”, revealed that the council members held consultations on Liberia sanctions, where the final report of the Panel of Experts was transmitted to the council on November 19, 2014.