882.5048/298: Telegram

The Chargé in Liberia (Reber) to the Secretary of State

114. The International Commission today handed its report jointly signed by the three members to the Liberian Government.29 The report consists of four major sections: (1) Introduction, (2) slavery and analogous practices, (3) forced labor for public and private purposes, (4) recommendations. It is generally understood that the report will not be made public locally before it is submitted to the Legislature in October.

Dr. Johnson sails for the United States via England on September 11th carrying a signed copy for delivery to the Department.

[Paraphrase.] Exceedingly well documented, the report appears to be a clear indictment of the Liberian Government’s policy of suppressing and intimidating the natives—a policy permitted, if not indulged in actually, by nearly all the high officials, the President included. From more than 260 depositions the conclusions are drawn, and there are citations of many suspicious criminal practices and even of torture.

It seems clear that, although the direct criminal participation is established with respect to the Vice President, several district commissioners, county superintendents and other minor officials in forced shipments of native labor to Fernando Po, these practices were known to the President and his Cabinet, who had received from the natives their recorded complaints and had taken no steps to put an end to these practices. The President is mentioned as having on one or two occasions sanctioned orders for shipment. Forced labor, often impressed ruthlessly under the guise of work for the Government, has been made use of by the President, the Vice President, two Cabinet members, and others, on their private farms.

The report follows immediately in telegraphic summary. [End paraphrase.]

  1. See Department of State, Report of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Existence of Slavery and Forced Labor in the Republic of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia, September 8, 1930 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1931).