In 2017, President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor from Coalition for Democratic Change were elected for six-year terms in elections that were reportedly credible. In the recent past, Liberia has experienced civil wars in which many crimes were committed. The individuals who committed these atrocities continue to enjoy impunity while victims are still waiting for justice. In September 2019, President George Weah endorsed the creation of a war crimes court in what is seen as a step forward to prosecute the crimes committed during the civil war. However, human rights defenders (HRDs) working in Liberia still work in a harsh environment. They are often harassed, arrested and detained.
Liberia voted in favour of the resolution for the protection of human rights defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 December 2015. They have also ratified other principal international documents on human rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Nevertheless, Liberia has not established a protective legal or policy framework at the national level for human rights defenders. There are no specific laws, policies, or measures to recognise and protect human rights defenders and their legitimate work. Journalists who criticise government officials or who express their political opinions are frequently harassed, detained, charged spurious fines, called terrorists, and their have their work restricted by the government.
Furthermore, HRDs working on corporate accountability, including those who work on issues related to the palm oil industry and land grabbing, are vulnerable to defamation, criminalization and physical attacks by members public institutions. Their work is silenced and they are frequently arbitrarily arrested and detained. Moreover, with a judicial system which has been internationally criticized as corrupt and which is characterized by a lack of neutrality, HRDs who are arrested are at risk of not being granted a fair trial. Gender based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM) are rampant and women human rights defenders in particular face a hostile environment from some communities who consider FGM as part of their tradition. In addition, HRDs working on LGBTI rights face discrimination when accessing public services and are subject to hate speech from the population. In 2016, the registration of an organisation championing LGBTI rights was denied by the Liberia Business Registry, justifying its decision by the fact that same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Liberia.