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Mob Violence Never OK, UN Envoy Tells Liberians

Mob violence never acceptable, UN envoy tells Liberians after deadly fracas

21 February 2008 - Liberians must never resort to mob vigilantism but instead allow the country's justice system to do its work after a serious crime has been committed, the United Nations envoy to the West African nation said after a recent attack by a large crowd led to the killing of a woman and the burning of a police station.

Ellen Margrethe Løj, the UN Envoy in Liberia, told a town hall meeting yesterday in Tappita, Nimba county, that the country's citizens must take a stand against violence.

"What happened just a few days ago is unacceptable," she said, according to a press release issued by the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). "We are helping the Liberia National Police to investigate the circumstances surrounding this murder. And we condemn this murder and the mob violence in the strongest possible terms."

After the murder of a 38-year-old woman, a violent mob set the newly constructed police station on fire, forcing a Bangladeshi contingent of UNMIL troops to rescue several murder suspects being detained at the police station.

Several UNMIL troops, as well as other law enforcement officers and the suspects, were injured as the mob attacked them with stones, sticks and other missiles, while a woman was killed.

Ms. Løj urged Liberians to "give peace a chance. The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but we cannot rush in anger and start practising mob violence. You must let the police and the courts do their work."

She also called on chiefs, elders and community leaders attending the town hall meeting in Tappita to take the lead in the campaign to reduce violence against women.

"We need you to speak out against sexual and gender-based violence, especially rape. Rape is the most common serious crime in Liberia today. You should get involved in stopping these grave crimes that affect our mothers, aunties, our sisters, daughters and nieces."

ENDS

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