November 8, 2014 / 2:41 PM / 5 years ago

Liberia rights commission calls for compensation for Ebola quarantine shooting

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberia’s human rights commission has called on the government to pay compensation to the family of a boy shot dead during a protest over Ebola quarantine in August, saying officers had not fired in the air as they claimed but directly on the crowd.

The West African nation’s rights watchdog condemned the deployment of soldiers and armed police to quell the protest in the West Point neighborhood of Monrovia. Residents took to the streets after the government quarantined the waterfront slum of 75,000 people following an attack on an Ebola holding center.

Liberia has been the country hardest-hit by the worst outbreak of Ebola on record, which has killed nearly 5,000 people since it was detected in the remote forest region of neighboring Guinea in March.

The Independent National Commission on Human Rights urged President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to make a public apology to the family of Shaki Kamara, who died after being shot in the legs after protesters had tried to break out of the quarantine.

“A bullet shot in the air cannot fall from above and shatter somebody’s legs, especially a person standing up as was Shaki Kamara’s position,” read the report, dismissing the army’s version of events.

“The INCHR...strongly recommends monetary compensation to the family, with the amount to be determined by the government in collaboration with the inter-religious council.”

The report noted that the president had ordered military top brass to penalize officers involved in the Aug. 20 shooting.

The commission urged the Liberian government to improve the desperate living standards in West Point and other poor Monrovia neighborhoods by providing proper housing, health centers, public toilets and schools.

The rapid spread of Ebola had caused panic in many parts of Monrovia as infection rates accelerated in August but the government and the World Health Organization (WHO) noted this week that the pace of the epidemic in Liberia appears to be in decline.

Reporting by James Harding Giahyue; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Rosalind Russell

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