The office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Liberia says the Liberian Government under president ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF and the University of Liberia (UL) Administration committed human rights abuse through wanton forceful eviction in gross violation of article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It followed what is described as the violent demolished of thousands of residential homes, businesses and aboriginal homeland villages of the FENDELL/LUISSIANA community and displaced tens of thousands of people in June 2016.
UCHENNA EMELONYE, the country representative of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Liberia said on Monday October 28, 2019 at the presentation of a long awaited profiling report for the violent demolition carried out at the FENDELL campus of the UL that the Liberian government and the UL administration flagrantly disregarded all provisions and guidelines of forced eviction in keeping with UDHR, Article 25.1.
The report among other things call for successive Liberian governments to find ways and means to give adequate redress to the thousands of victims of the UL FENDELLL Campus demolition.
EMELONYE said it was unimaginable that such reckless human rights abuse could be committed under the watch of a Nobel Peace Laureate and a knowledgeable international law actor and beneficiary like president ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF.
He rather praised president GEORGE WEAH for accepting general governmental responsibility for such abuse against the people.
He said though the projection of 16 million dollars as found out by the profiling done by the government itself through the LRRRC seems high, the acceptance of responsibility is a first bold step to the restoration the people’s dignity commandeered by the violent June 2016 forced eviction of the thousands of FENDELL victims.
Ambassador EMELONYE said now that the Liberian Government has mustered the courage of acceptance of guilt for human rights abuse against its own people through the profiling by the LRRRC, the government should now turn to international partners for help to write the wrong so that such act is not meted out against any individual or group of people in the future in Liberia.
Earlier the, Rev. Festus Logan, the Executive Director of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission outlined the damage done when the ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF Government and the UL administration violently demolished more than three thousand homes, villages and aboriginal homeland villages.
Logan reported that the profiling took his team five months more than the initial three months mandated by President George Weah and found out that at least 16 million dollars worth of property got destroyed and nearly 20 thousand people displaced and made vulnerable.
Logan reported that since the demolition and forced eviction at FENDELL, more than 10 thousand children, especially girls have been out of shelter and made vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.
He said the thousands of people displaced by the wanton demolition are still displaced and largely traumatized.
Rev. Logan and team suggest in the profiling, resettlement and reintegration for the victims on one hand and an intense dialogue between the victims and the University administration as means of finding durable solution to the FENDELL land dispute, warning that there is still huge rift and tension between the University administration and the thousands of victims who are still scattered without homes in communities around FENDEL and awaiting durable solution for restoration of their dignity..
At the same time Nathaniel McGill, Minister of state for presidential Affairs proxying for President George Manneh Weah assured that the president is committed to his promise to redress the hurt and concerns of the thousands of victims when he met them in February this year and offered to dialogue and meet them half way.
Minister McGill said president Weah and the government will swiftly work to address the FENDELL saga so as to bring to an end the long suffering of the people. He said the president has been awaiting report for prompt action and he was happy to receive it.
He said the government will liaise with its international partners in finding the required durable solution for the FENDELL demolition in the soonest possible time.
Earlier the chairperson of the Fendell Estates and Land Owners Working Committee, FELOWOC Ms. Viola Lincoln thanked the president, LMDI, LRRRC and the UN for making it possible for the FENDELL victims to see this day.
She said the people’s hearts were broken and hopeless with many even losing their lives almost weekly, but that their hopes have been rekindled by the profiling report and the apparent commitment of the government and partners to find a durable solution.
Ms. Lincoln expressed grave anxiety and objection to the continual presence of UL Vice President for Administration, Mrs. Weade Kobba Wreh Bolay, noting that Mrs. Bolay now represents extreme fear at the FENDELL campus of the university of Liberia especially for the demolition victims.
Mr. John Kollie, head of the LMDI and advocate for the FENDELL victims had indicated earlier that the long time intervention of his organization was not predicated on any personal interest but that he just could understand and stomach the gross human rights abuse against the FENDELL victims through violent and wanton destruction of a people who had just emerged from war, Ebola and the attending economic hardship.
As President George Weah promised to meet them half-way,The victims are now living with their current traumatic conditions but are still anticipating some compensation for the destruction of their properties.