Tuesday, September 25, 2007

UN Cuts Back Liberia Peace Force

The United Nations Security Council has extended the UN peacekeeping force's mandate in Liberia for a year. But the council decided to reduce the 14,000-strong UN Mission in Liberia (Unmil) by almost 20%, and also to cut back the 1,000-strong UN police.

Thanks again for the link, Nicolas. They will continue to extend on a year-by-year basis. I wonder how long they'll ultimately stay. We were just talking about this the other day; I'm hoping for another three years at least.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rejection of the bill is not out of concern for Taylor but rather out of the concern for the legislators themselves. I suspect that they believe that if they engage in theft, that would mean that the government will be able to freeze their assets pending the outcome of the case. Should they be guilty of theft, their assets can then be used by the government to recover any loss.

As the laws of Liberia stand, the government does not need any new law to seize Taylor's properties. Liberia is a signatory to the UN Charter and the Charter was duly accepted by a previous Legislature through the passage of an Act. Among other things, the Act authorizes the government to abide by decisions taken by the United Nations. The Attorney General can simply act on the authority of the U.N. resolutions to seize Taylor's properties.

What is cannot do at this point is to freeze the assets of individuals who may now engage in theft since under current laws there is no basis for "freezing" of property prior to an individual being found guilty of "misappropriation of public funds". In the past, individuals who knew they were guilty would simply transfer the ownership of ill-gotten properties prior to the outcome of the trial. Once government prosecutor prevail in such matters, the person convicted is legally penniless and the only recourse the state had would be to sentence the person to prison, that is if they had not already absconded.

I believe that this is what the current government was trying to prevent. However, there was a lot of misinformation regarding what the act was actually calling for. The proposed act was simply calling for a "freezing" of the assets of an individual undergoing investigation for theft of public funds and not the "confiscation" of their assets without due process. My understanding is that if the individual was deemed not to have stolen public funds, his assets would then be "unfrozen". The rumor mill had it that the government would embark on a campaign of confiscating people's property without due process. I have read the proposed Act and there is no such provision in it.

So Taylor or anyone else explicitly listed on the U.N. sanction list whose assets are to be frozen by authority of U.N. resolutions are not off the hook...not by any stretch. Those who are off the hook are those who may steal public funds now. The government will have to find other ways of recovering stolen funds. In the past, long prison sentences did not serve as a deterrent because the individual simply fled the country and the government couldn't legally seize their property since it had already been transferred to someone else.

12:15 AM  
Blogger josh said...

anonymous, would you please contact me via liberialedger @ yahoo . com? thanks.

10:45 AM  

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