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Statement of Carter Center Condemning Crimes against Liberian NGO and ITS Staff

Atlanta, GA… The Carter Center strongly condemns the Nov. 28 ransacking of the offices of a leading Liberian nongovernmental organization, the Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE) and the brutal beatings of its executive director, Conmany Wesseh, and chairman, former Interim President Dr. Amos Sawyer. Dr. Sawyer's own report on the attack characterized it as organized and targeted against CEDE and its staff. This event follows a similar incident in July 1999, where Wesseh's home was attacked and his family threatened by a group of armed thugs claiming to be ex-combatants. In the previous incident, no charges were drawn against any of the alleged perpetrators.

"I am profoundly shocked and saddened by this incident. CEDE is the foremost advocate of democratic development in Liberia. Such organized violence against this organization is an affront to all those who advocate peaceful dialogue and democracy in that country," stated President Carter. "I urge the Government of Liberia to act quickly to arrest, charge, and try before a court of law those who perpetrated this crime. Furthermore, the government has an obligation to guarantee security for every individual and organization working to promote democracy and human rights."

One of the major problems still plaguing Liberia in the aftermath of the recent seven-year civil war is underdevelopment and lack of investment. With such examples of a lack of security, particularly in the capitol, investment will remain elusive, and the people of Liberia will continue to suffer.

The Carter Center worked closely with CEDE on a number of issues, including promoting closer working relationships between members of the Liberian media and the community, and a project designed to examine methods of strengthening the Liberian economy. The Carter Center recently closed its field office in Liberia due in part to concerns over the threats to human rights.

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