Democracy and rights
More than 15 years after the end of the war,
Liberia has made considerable progress in terms of
democracy and human rights. But problems remain with,
among other things, corruption and women's rights.
Liberia is a democracy with universal suffrage and
multi-party systems. Everyone is free to form and
operate in political parties. The 2017 election was
considered by international election observers as
essentially free and fair, even though there were
shortcomings in the administration.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Liberia, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and
association, which is generally respected. Both
spontaneous and planned demonstrations are common.
Liberia has many civil society organizations working in
several sectors, but organizations working for the
rights of LGBTQ people have a low profile as
homosexuality is not widely accepted in society.
Although women and men are equal before the law, they
continue to be discriminated against in several areas
and especially in rural areas. Sexual and gender-based
violence is common. The number of rapes, including group
rapes, is high and few cases lead to convictions.
Women's participation in politics is low at all levels.
In 2018, twelve percent of parliamentary seats were held
Religious freedom prevails by law, but there is
information on discrimination against the Muslim
minority (see Religion). Asian and Lebanese groups, who
have lived in the country for generations, are denied
Being gay is not illegal but practicing same sex sex.
LGBTQ people are stigmatized and blamed, among other
things, for causing the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
Several initiatives have been taken to fight the
widespread corruption, but the authorities lack
sufficient resources to work effectively. In 2018, the
appropriations for several of the most important
authorities were further reduced. In 2018, Transparency
International ranked Liberia 120th in its index of
perceived corruption in 180 countries.
Freedom of expression and media
Expressing different opinions as a private person is
usually harmless, but some topics, such as
homosexuality, are taboo.
Liberia has a long press tradition and the
constitution prescribes both freedom of the press and
opinion, but freedom of the press has at times been
severely limited. This is where West Africa's first
newspaper, the Liberia Herald, was started in 1830.
Today there are about 10 newspapers, most of which also
publish online. However, most Liberians receive their
news via the radio.
During the civil war in the early 2000s, it was
forbidden to report on the movements and to write about
the international sanctions against the Liberian regime.
Under the government of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who ruled
the country from 2006 to 2018, conditions improved
significantly. However, in connection with the 2011
presidential election, many cases of threats and acts of
violence against journalists and media companies were
reported. Also in connection with the Ebola epidemic
2014–2015, the authorities sought to influence the
reporting of journalists. Particularly large
interventions against the media were made between August
and November 2014, when the government announced an
emergency permit to fight Ebola (see Calendar).
In 2018, progress was made when new President George
Weah signed a new press law that decriminalized crimes
such as the throwing of the presidential office and
revival. Nevertheless, 2018 became a dark year when
several journalists were arrested and subjected to
violence. Among other things, a minister in the
government threatened the publisher of the investigative
journal Frontpage Africa with imprisonment since its
journalists wrote about suspicions that a container of
money had disappeared. In a letter to the UN
Secretary-General, the Liberia Press Club expressed
concern about the situation of the independent press in
Reporters Without Borders placed Liberia in place 93
in its ranking of freedom of the press in 180 countries
in 2019. It was four places worse than the year before,
but still at about the same level as other years during
the period 2013 to 2018.
Most media is financially dependent on government
advertisements or money from local politicians or
Judicial system and legal security
The judiciary is formally independent but in practice
has almost always been forced to submit to political
leadership and the armed forces. During the first civil
war, total lawlessness prevailed, but the situation was
almost as serious during the years Charles Taylor was
president (1997–2003). The abuses against civil interest
groups, journalists and politically opposites helped to
trigger the Second Civil War. Under Johnson Sirleaf's
rule, the situation improved, but the weak legal system
often means that serious crimes are not prosecuted.
In the 2003 peace agreement, the parties agreed to
form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
whose mandate was to investigate serious human rights
and war crimes, but also financial crimes committed from
January 1979 to October 2003.
TRC began its work in June 2006 and conducted a
series of witness hearings in 2008. In its final report,
presented in July 2009, the Commission listed 49 people
who it considered should be banned from holding public
office for 30 years. Among those appointed were
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who shortly thereafter
apologized to the nation for supporting the late Charles
Taylor in the early stages.
In January 2009, former President Charles Taylor's
son, Chuckie Taylor, was sentenced by a US court to 97
years in prison for torture and summary executions
during his time as head of a Liberian army unit. This
was the first time the United States made use of a 1994
law that allows people to be convicted of torture in
Charles Taylor himself was sentenced in 2012 to 50
years in prison for his role in the war in neighboring
Sierra Leone (see Sierra Leone: Democracy and Rights).
He appealed against the judgment, which, however, was
upheld at a higher instance.
Progress has been made in the development of the rule
of law in recent years and the international
organization Freedom House sees signs of increased
independence. But corruption and pressure often continue
to undermine its neutrality. The traditional judicial
system with informal mechanisms still often forms the
basis for achieving justice in rural areas.
The police do not have the resources to do their job
properly. It often commits assault and, according to
human rights organizations, corruption within the union
The wait for judicial review is long. It happens that
people are allowed to sit in jail for years without
getting a trial, longer than the penalty for what their
alleged crimes state. This is due, among other things,
to understaffing and inefficiency. The conditions in the
prisons are poor. A major problem is the many rapes that
are rarely punished.
The death penalty was abolished in 2005 but
reinstated in 2008 in an attempt to address the high
crime rate. However, no execution has taken place in
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) joins a debt
relief program for Liberia.
The President orders that compulsory education for
compulsory school children be compulsory and free of
A coup attempt is reported to have been interrupted.
Five people are charged with treason.
Penalties are lifted
The UN Security Council repeals the ban on the export
of diamonds from Liberia.
Top politicians are charged with corruption
Former Interim President Gyude Bryant is indicted for
embezzlement of more than a million US dollars (the
Supreme Court ruled in August that he does not have
legal immunity because he was not elected president).
The US writes Liberia's debt to the country at US $
358 million. Liberia's total foreign debt amounts to US
$ 3.7 billion.