S. Leone Joins Guinea for Immediate Liberia Sanctions
February 26, 2001
Citing continuous Liberian rebel support since the UN Security Council gave President Charles Taylor 2 months to end his backing of the Revolutionary United Front, Sierra Leone joined Guinea in demanding immediate sanctions on Liberia for its regional destabilization schemes leading to tens of thousands of refugees.
"The Government of Sierra Leone would like to appeal to the Security Council to alleviate the suffering of the people of Sierra Leone, and prevent further deterioration of the current humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone and in the neighbouring countries, by taking a decision as expeditiously as possible, to impose sanctions against Liberia based on the findings and recommendations of its Panel of Experts on diamonds and arms," a Sierra Leone Government statement said.
The statement, issued following Guinea's refusal to allow ECOWAS border troops, noted that Liberia "has failed to show proof and independent verification of the steps it claims it has taken to ''disengage'' itself from the RUF. It continues to harbour senior members of the RUF and their families. It continues to violate the arms embargo imposed by resolution 788 (1992); the provisions concerning the sale or supply of arms and related materiel imposed by resolution 1171 (1998), as well as its obligations under the ECOWAS agreement on a moratorium on the importation, exportation and manufacture of small arms and light weapons in West Africa."
The Government warned the UN that after the expiry of the two months, Liberia would "argue that it lacks the financial and technical resources required to comply with those commitments. While the Government of Sierra Leone is fully aware of the emerging international consensus that in imposing sanctions the Security Council should ensure, among other things, that such measures do not create unbearable humanitarian consequences for innocent people", the statement said, "it is of the view that this is no longer a convincing argument in terms of the scope of sanctions now under consideration for Liberia".
Sierra Leone regretted that "the most disturbing aspect of the situation, is that the Liberian Government continues to demonstrate through complacency and delaying tactics, its belief that the Security Council is incapable of taking any action against that Government without the concurrence of ECOWAS. This belief is at the core of the whole question of whether or not the imposition of sanctions should be delayed".
The statement said since the postponement of sanctions, Charles Taylor has not shown any indication of divorcing himself from the RUF. It said the "least" Mr. Taylor "could have done to strengthen the credibility of ECOWAS, and to justify the proposed two-month delay, was to have taken immediate and verifiable action within these two weeks, to fulfil some of those basic commitments that did not require technical or financial assistance from any international organization". This, the statement said, has not been done.
Freetown said it has since "come to the conclusion that the basis on which ECOWAS had advocated a two-month delay in the imposition of sanctions is gradually being eroded by the Liberian Government itself." It accused the Liberian Government of "gradually eroding the credibility of ECOWAS by demonstrating a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the situation and its implications for peace and stability in the West African sub-region, including Liberia itself."
The Government said, "The Security Council should without further delay, take up this serious challenge to its responsibility under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. The Sierra Leone Government is convinced now, more than ever before, that at the end of any two-month delay in the Security Council's consideration of sanctions, Liberia plans to request the Council through ECOWAS, to allow it more time to comply with the ECOWAS commitments."
The Sierra Leone Government reminded the UN that, "No member of ECOWAS has argued that the proposed sanctions against Liberia would create serious humanitarian consequences for the people of Liberia. On the contrary, the people of Liberia have openly supported the adoption of sanctions resolution on their country".
Sierra Leone disputed the prevailing argument that sanctions would hurt ordinary Liberians, reminding the Council that, Liberians have made it clear that "only a handful of people who had been identified in the UN Expert Panel's report, and who benefit directly from privileges, would have their privileges suspended if sanctions were imposed on Liberia". The statement further warned that the "Inaction by the Security Council against Liberia has in effect not only contributed to the prolongation of the conflict, but has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis that has overwhelmed the people in Sierra Leone for almost ten years". It said, "The gravity of the crisis and its impact on neighbouring countries, particularly Guinea, are on the records of UNICEF, UNHCR, OCHA and other international organizations and agencies".
The statement quoted the UN representative of Mauritius who says 'the image that comes to mind is that of numerous children, women and men who have suffered cruel death or have been severely maimed and disabled in the senseless conflict that has gripped Sierra Leone for several years. It is indeed outrageous that the lives of so many innocent Sierra Leonean children, women and men, have been extinguished and so many others have been condemned to live miserably for ever with vital limbs cut off simply because a powerful few have entertained a sinister dream to amass unlimited wealth through illegitimate means'.''
The Sierra Leoneans informed the UN that "A week ago UNICEF reported that the RUF was still holding 500 children; that some 10,000 children had lost contact with their families, while over 1,000 girls had become victims of rape. These and other human conditions were certainly not the consequences of sanctions". They further recalled that, "The people of Sierra Leone bore the brunt of sanctions imposed by ECOWAS in 1997 against the military/rebel junta with the blessing of the Security Council. The people of Sierra Leone are already feeling the negative effects of the ban on the export of Sierra Leone diamonds under resolution 1306 (2000). They are however aware that the ban would, in the near future, help to break the link between the trade in diamonds and arms, and contribute to ending the rebel war."
Sierra Leone's statement comes after Guinea ruled out the possibility of ECOWAS troops deployment in the absence of sanctions.