Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017



Freedom Status: 
Partly Free

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 
Partly Free

Liberia has enjoyed more than a decade of peace and stability since a 14-year period of intermittent civil war ended in 2003. During this time, the country has made considerable progress towards rebuilding government capacity, reestablishing the rule of law, and ensuring the political rights and civil liberties of citizens. However, Liberia still faces serious issues with corruption and unequal justice.

Key Developments in 2016: 
  • With presidential and legislative elections scheduled for October 2017, Liberia’s political landscape saw jockeying among parties and politicians, amid a peaceful environment. By year’s end, a number of credible contenders for the presidency had emerged.
  • In September, in an effort to address underrepresentation of women in government, Liberia’s legislature passed the Equal Representation and Participation Act, creating five seats for female politicians in the House of Representatives, along with one for young people and one for people with disabilities.
  • The UN Security Council voted in December to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) until March 2018.
Executive Summary: 

Liberia’s political landscape in 2016 was dominated by preparations for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections. Because incumbent president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is constitutionally barred from serving a third term, the election will bring about the first transition of power since the end of the civil wars in 2003. Several candidates have emerged as top contenders for the presidency, including Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP); George Weah, a senator and standard-bearer for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC); and Benoni Urey, a businessman affiliated with the All Liberian Party (ALP). Despite fears among some observers that the election could destabilize the country, in 2016 all stakeholders appeared to be committed to a peaceful electoral process.

The government has continued to pursue its anticorruption agenda, though progress has been slow and corruption remains pervasive. In May 2016, the government launched an investigation into a corruption scandal involving mining contracts, which led to bribery charges against the speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as a senator.

In recent years, rulings by the nation’s highest court have reflected judicial independence and the court’s continued willingness to intervene to protect people’s rights. However, petty corruption and a lack of capacity within lower-level courts and security sectors remained major impediments to the rule of law.

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