New York- US (PANA) -- New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) Monday called on the UN to extend its arms embargo on Liberia to all rebel groups in the country, and to closely monitor compliance by neighbouring Guinea with the embargo.
HRW in a report on the situation of Liberian refugees, noted that the Guinean government's close relationship with rebel groups in the area posed "a serious threat to refugees' security and protection in Guinea".
"Hundreds of Liberians seeking asylum in Guinea are being forced back to Liberia to join the ranks of the rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) either as fighters or to work for them as porters," the rights group charged.
Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of the African Division of HRW, said international human rights law prohibited the return of people to situations where their life or freedom would be threatened.
The HRW's release coincided with the UN Security Council's debate on the sanctions imposed on Liberian government for its alleged support for Sierra Leonean rebels.
"The Guinean government is clearly violating international human rights law in its treatment of these refugees," the release said, adding: "Guinean authorities are facilitating human rights abuses by the Liberian rebels".
The HRW report indicated that Guinean soldiers at the borders forced some of the refugees to return to trouble spots in Liberia, or physically handed refugees over to LURD commanders.
"The LURD have engaged in forced military recruitment of men and young boys among the refugees, and have abducted adolescent girls for sex, then turned them to the camp," Takirambudde alleged.
He said HRW was alarmed with the situation around Kouankan, the largest refugee camp in Guinea, which was frequently patronised by LURD's combatants to the knowledge of Guinean authorities.
The HRW official specifically cited Koyama and Fassankoni, as areas where refugees were being arrested and detained on trumped-up charges of fighting for the Liberian government.
He urged the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC) to move into the affected areas and assist the victims, saying that Guinean authorities had consistently told UNHCR officials that the zones were dangerous.