Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Travel Ban, Assets Lift Rests on Security Council

...UN Chief Hears Liberians' Plea

FPA Staff Report

Monrovia -

“The decisions on this travel ban and assets freeze are made by the United Nations Security Council. There are relevant UN Security Council Committees dealing with the Liberian case. Therefore, I would suggest that if there are any such requests, the parties or people concern will have to bring this/his case to the focal point of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on Liberia.

The website quoted Mr. Ban as saying, “As I understand there have been two such cases where two individuals have been de-listed upon their appeal and this should be a subject of discussion at the UN Security Council Committee members.”

UNited Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressing the Liberian Legislature yestarday at the Capitol Building

This was the response of the UN Secretary-General when one of three questions was posed to him during a brief interaction with the journalists at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today.

Earlier before addressing the 52nd National Legislature, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bomi County’s Representative Alex Tyler drew Mr. Ban’s attention to the travel ban against officials of the former Liberian President Charles Taylor, his associates as well as other Liberians, including some members of the National Legislature.

“A few years ago these individuals were placed on this ban. Whatever the reasons were for the ban have not been fully comprehended by Liberians; even more so when they have not been charged in a court of law. Therefore, for most Liberians, the motive for the ban seems obsolete and parochial.

“Our legislature is besieged by appeals from many quarters including our constituencies to have this matter addressed especially under the momentary efforts that are being undertaken to bring healing, reconciliation, pacification, not only here in Liberia where there is a new leadership; but also in neighboring Sierra Leone where it is progressing under its own democratic leadership,” Speaker Tyler said.

He furthered that as Mr. Taylor is presently in The Hague undergoing due process, the Speaker prayed that the travel ban be reviewed and those placed on it be given due process to afford them the opportunity to defend themselves.

Addressing a press conference on his visit to Liberia, the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban said any decision on the travel restriction of those placed on the travel ban is made by the Security Council.

He said concerns raised by the National Legislature on the matter will be the subject of discussion at the next UN Security Council meeting on Liberia.

On other issues Mr. Ban reiterated that his visit was to see first-hand the achievements of the Liberian Government in post-conflict recovery.

On the issue of being disappointed as the Liberian president is out of the country while he’s visiting, Mr. Ban said he was aware of her planned absence because of the unavoidable scheduling problems.

He said he planned the visit to the sub-region at a very short notice specifically to attend the opening of 12th UNTAC meeting in Accra, Ghana. He said he then decided to visit the countries in the sub-region that have UN peacekeeping operations to acquaint himself of developments there.

Mr. Ban said President Johnson Sirleaf did call him up to inform him about the scheduling problems and he told her to go ahead with her planned travel schedule. “As such, he noted that that should not have been any concern or regret as the Vice President and other members of Government were quite capable of discussing the issues with him during the visit though very brief.

He told journalists during the short stakeout at the Foreign Ministry that he also wanted to place emphasis on UN peace-building efforts and on highlighting progress on the Millennium Development Goals. “The recent worldwide protests over soaring global food prices has demonstrated the need for Liberia to meet the MDGs in order to be safe from the weaknesses of globalization while taking advantage from its myriad opportunities for growth and prosperity,” Mr. Ban said.

He said his visit afforded him the opportunity to see and realize that Liberia still faces significant development and reconstruction challenges. He, however, noted that the Government is working hard, in partnership with the international community, to surmount these challenges. As a result the international community has been generous and urged them to continue to support Liberia’s recovery

“The opportunities that are being presented to Liberia to improve the country should not be squandered,” he urged; adding that it will be equally important for Liberians themselves to show their resolve to pursue peace, end corruption and improve the economy.

Mr. Ban reassured Liberians that as UNMIL has begun the first phase of its drawdown process, it will proceed in a cautious and gradual manner. “We will not put at risk the gains that have been made so far. A gradual withdrawal should allow the Government sufficient time to assume full responsibility for national security.”

Touching on the issue of rape among the Liberian population and sexual exploitation and abuse, he reiterated the UN policy on zero tolerance for these practices. During a meeting he had with UN staff, he said such conduct goes against everything that the UN stands for. “It undermines the trust that is essential for our success in this country and elsewhere.”

He expressed his regrets that rape continues to be the most commonly committed crime in Liberia. He used the occasion to call on traditional and community leaders and elders to take the lead in combating the scourge of rape and other acts of sexual and gender based violence. “Violence against women should not be tolerated,” he stressed.

He ensured that UNMIL, together with the UN funds, programmes and agencies in Liberia, will continue to support the Government, under one umbrella, in meeting its humanitarian and development objectives.

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