Press Releases

Ghastly Accounts Of Factions' Cannibalism...Children Recount Experiences

Montserrado County, Liberia
22 September, 2008
Categorized as pertaining to: Hearings

A witness told commissioners of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) grisly accounts of how fighters of the defunct ULIMO-K faction slaughtered and ate eight civilians in 1993 in Lofa County.

The witness who was a child during the killings said following the group's capture of the area, the fighters ordered them to go on a hunting game, but when they returned from the forest only one group of them brought an animal.

The identity of the witness which was concealed to ensure protection explained that the fighters then ordered the slaughter of the group that did not succeed. He said the civilians including his brother were slaughtered and their body parts cooked.

"When they captured our town, they divided us into two groups and they told us to go in the bush and look for particles (animal) for them to cook and eat. We went into the bush but when we came back only our group caught the opossum. The other group which my brother was in did not catch anything. So the commander gave order and his men tied all other them and they cut their throats," he explained.

After slitting their throats, he said the fighters disembowel them, cut their flesh into pieces and cooked them along with the animal in a soup. The witness said after the soup was cooked the fighters forced him and other inhabitants of the town to eat the meal.

He also narrated that his pregnant sister was also disembowel by the fighters during their control of the area. He said that his father was wrapped in a mat alive and burned.

In collecting children's experiences of the war and during the hearing, special mechanisms were used to ensure the protection of children throughout the process, one of which was concealing their identities.

Another child witness explained that he was conscripted at age 10 by commanders of the defunct Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) from his village in Gbarpolu County in 2003.

The witness said he was forced to engage in gun battle during the group's struggle to oust the government of President Charles Taylor.

He said civilians were forced to carry arms and ammunition on their heads sometimes from distances as far as the Guinean border to frontlines close to the capitol, Monrovia. He explained that civilians who refused to carry the war materials were oftentimes severely flogged or shot.

The hearing under theme: "Children And The Conflict In Liberia: What Does The Future Hold?" is aimed at understanding the impact of the conflict and transitional justice mechanisms on the development of Liberian children and their future.

The Monrovia hearing brings to four regional public hearings for children and panel discussions between the commissioners and children.

As part of the hearing child protection agencies are making presentations while several children who were direct victims of the Liberian conflict are testifying. The hearing will be followed by a panel discussion with commissioners of the TRC. Hundreds of students, local residents and child protection agencies are attending the hearing.

To conform to international standards and to achieve its objectives the commission has been organizing and holding the children hearings in collaboration with UNICEF and the National Child Protection Network (NCPN), a consortium of Child Protection Agencies (CPA).

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005. The TRC was established to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation," and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.


Signed: _________________________
Mambu James Kpargoi, Jr.
Media & Information Officer

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