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Liberia: UN expert calls for probe into suspected ritualistic killings

MONROVIA, LIBERIA-A UN human rights expert called on the Liberian Government to promptly investigate a series of killings that have occurred this year, some of which have reportedly been linked to ritualistic practices.

At least 10 people have been killed in unclear circumstances in 2021, including five in September reportedly with suspected links to ritualistic practices or political motivations. According to information received by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Morris Tidball-Binz, three of the most recent victims were either former officials or had links to high-profile former politicians.

The Liberian Independent National Commission on Human Rights and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court have both called for full investigations into the killings.

“Prompt, independent and thorough investigations into potentially unlawful killings is a key component of the right to life. These investigations should be conducted in accordance with the standards enshrined in The Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death,” said Tidball-Binz.

“Investigations should fully explore all possible motivations for these killings.

“Investigations should not only be aimed at bringing those responsible to justice, but also to draw necessary lessons for revising practices and policies with a view to avoiding repeated violations.”

UN human rights bodies have previously raised concerns and called for investigations into ritualistic killings in Liberia, including the Human Rights Committee in 2018.  

The expert has written to the Government to raise his concerns.