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U.S. Highlights Safety Issues in the Extractive Sector

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Top: An artisanal mine in Wayjue, Grand Cape Mount County on November 20, 2019. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue


By James Harding Giahyue


MONROVIA – The United States has pointed out health, safety, and environmental problems that occurred last year in Liberia’s extractive industries, criticizing the Liberian government for human casualties and the lack of accountability in the sectors.

“Hazardous occupations were especially dangerous in the informal sector, such as illegal fishing, logging, and mining, where the lack of regulation and remediation contributed to fatalities and obscured accountability,” the U.S. State Department’s annual report, released Monday, said.

“The government did not keep records of industrial accidents, but evidence pointed to mining, construction, forestry, fishing, and agriculture as the most dangerous sectors,” it added.

The report said businesspeople exploited unsafe and unregulated artisanal mines. It added widespread illegal mining activities resulted “in the deaths of several persons every year, and that “No official entity provided social protections for informal-sector workers.”

It said workers added earnings from subsistent farming, artisanal mining and other informal businesses to their pay from the formal sector.  

Corruption

Officially known as the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. State Department has released the publications, which cover 198 states, for the last five decades. It gauges countries’ political, civil rights and workers’ rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments.

The report shined a light on land and other natural resources-related conflicts in rural Liberia and cited a media report of alleged sexual harassment at the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation.   

It spoke of “significant” human rights abuses in the country from “obstruction” of press freedom and “serious” problem with the Judiciary to unlawful killings and the lack of accountability in the country.

“There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year,” the report said. It mentioned the resignations of Minister of State for Presidential Affairs  Nathaniel McGill, Solicitor General and Chief Prosecutor Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Twehway, who were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in August.

 “Officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.”

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