International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies

Corruption Perceptions Index


Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Liberia

Article 9 of Chapter II of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia encourages bilateral and regional co-operation and the country is party of treaty law and is a member of international and regional organizations for the attainment of the global protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable use of natural resources. The constitution also recognizes that Liberia's biodiversity plays a crucial role maintaining global ecological cycles, providing a legal framework for the protection and management of Liberia's environment, its cooperation with other countries and membership in relevant international organizations.

Featured Legislation

1953: The Forests Act was introduced to provide for the establishment of the Bureau of Forest Conservation within the Department of Agriculture and Commerce. The Act consists of many sections such as (I); Interpretation (II); Establishment of the Bureau of Forest Conservation (III); Policies and Objectives of Conservation (IV); Functions of the Bureau of Forest Conservation (V); Establishment of Government Forest Reserves (VI); Establishment of Native Authority Forest Reserves (VII); and Establishment of Communal Forests (VIII).

1973: Rules and Regulations governing fishing within the Republic of Liberia were created to deal with various matters of marine and freshwater fishing such as licences, use of certain fishing methods, protection of fish resources in general and of crab and lobster in particular, prohibition of foreign fishing, measures of enforcement.

  • 2002: The New Petroleum Law of Liberia was passed, addressing hydrocarbon exploitation and production in Liberia including submarine areas. It also provides measures for the protection of the environment, interference with fishery, dispute resolution and other matters related to such exploitation and production.
  • 2002: The Environment Protection Agency Act of Liberia was signed, providing for the establishment of the Environment Protection Agency, the National Environment Policy Council, the Environmental Court of Appeals, the Environmental Administrative Court and the Environment Protection Fund, for the designation of Environmental Inspectors and other matters relative to administration in the field of environment, for environment impact assessment and monitoring and for environmental enforcement orders.
  • 2003: An act for the Establishment of a Protected Forest Area Network was presented to establish and manage protected areas in Liberia. In Chapter 2, various definitions regarding protected areas are revised or added. Under Chapter 9, a Protected Forest Areas Network and Conservation Corridors is established. These protected areas shall incorporate National Forests and at least 30 percent of the existing forest area of Liberia.
  • 2009: The Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) Act was adopted. This Act aims at transparency and accountability in logging, mining, oil and related operations. It establishes an autonomous agency of the Government to be known as the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (“LEITI”). LEITI shall comprise a broad coalition of stakeholders and assists in ensuring that all benefits are due to the Government and people of Liberia on account of the exploitation and/or extraction of the country’s minerals.
  • 2009: The Community Rights Law was instituted, seeking to empower communities to fully engage in sustainable management and conservation of forests of Liberia by creating a legal framework that defines and supports community rights in the management and use of forest resources. It provides the legal framework that empowers local communities located in or near forest lands to access, manage, use and benefit from forest resources on those lands for sustenance and livelihood improvements as well as for community development.
  • 2010: The Mineral Policy was unveiled. It serves as a nationwide sectoral document aiming at giving adequate indications to the investment community (both national and foreign) of a competitive mineral regime that is informed by international trends, adheres to international norms, is grounded in local conditions and is accountable to national common interests in order to realize the following Vision statement for the mining sector “Equitable and optimal exploitation of Liberia’s mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development". The main strategies of the current Government are to revive the mineral sector to enhance its contribution to government revenues, foreign exchange earnings, employment creation, ancillary economic activities, human resources and technology development and the improvement of social and physical infrastructure. To achieve these strategies, the Government has the following objectives (i) establish an internationally competitive and stable business climate to attract and sustain foreign and local investment; (ii) formulate a fiscal and concession scheme that assures the country of fair value for its resources, while offering equitable rewards to private investors; (iii) institutionalize procedures to maximize returns to the nation; (iv) put in place a mechanism for the evaluation of competing land use options; (v) eliminate adverse social conditions and environmental degradation due to mining activities; (vi) support and enable artisanal and small scale mining activities to create employment, generate income and help reduce poverty in the rural areas; (vii) ensure equitable distribution of benefits from mining activities; (viii) facilitate equitable access to the sector, irrespective of gender or ethnicity; (ix) ensure consultation of all stakeholders and protect affected people from exploration through mining and post-mine closure; and (x) establish an effective administration and management of the mineral sector.
  • 2010: ​​Regulations relating to fisheries, fishing and related activities, for the marine fisheries sector in the Republic of Liberia were established to provide rules for the marine fisheries sector in the Republic of Liberia. The Regulations provide with respect to, among other things: fisheries conservation and management; and fishing and operating of fishing vessels.
  • 2011: Regulations to the Community Rights Law with Respect to Forest Lands were implemented to determine the rules, guidelines and procedures for the establishment of forest communities and oversee access, management and use of benefits of forest resources within the Republic of Liberia, and participation by communities in the reforestation, rehabilitation and conservation of forest and wildlife resources in Liberia.
  • 2019: The Plant Protection Regulatory Services Bureau Act was introduced. This Act shall be applicable to all activities involving experiments on, as well as authorization, marketing, use, safety and control of pesticides and natural biopesticides in Liberia. The purpose of the Liberia Protection Regulatory System and the Common ECOWAS Regulation shall be to protect the populations and the environment of Liberia and West Africa against the potential dangers in the use of pesticides; facilitate trade in pesticides within Liberia and with other Member States, through application of principles and rules mutually agreed at regional level, to dismantle trade barriers; facilitate timely and convenient access by farmers to quality pesticides; ensure rational and judicious use of pesticides; contribute to the creation of a climate propitious to private investment in the pesticides industry; and promote public-private sector partnership. The Act further provides for guiding principles for regional integration, registration of pesticides; trials, appeal; marketing of pesticides; labeling; packaging; formulation and repackaging; pesticides quality control and safe use; and safe pesticide storage, transport, use, and disposal.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • In 2019: Two Liberia-based shipping companies, Nederland Shipping Company and Chartworld Shipping Company, were found guilty in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, for committing environmental crimes. The companies violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and failed to inform the U.S. Coast Guard of a hazardous condition on one of its vessels. A plea agreement was reached, including  $1.8 million dollars in criminal penalties. The companies own and operate 13,049 gross tons of M/V Nederland Reefer and allegations began to circulate in early 2019 that hazardous materials were being shipped. An investigation by the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment out of Lewes, Delaware revealed that the vessel’s Chief Engineer, Vasileios Mazarakis, had been repeatedly tricking the oil content monitoring device on the vessel’s OWS with fresh water, discharging untreated water overboard at sea. What is more, the CEO of the company falsified the vessel’s Oil Record Book (ORB) to conceal these illegal discharges from the Coast Guard. Mazarakis has pleaded guilty to violating the APPS for his falsification of the ORB, and has also admitted to obstructing the Coast Guard’s investigation by destroying evidence and witness tampering. The operation of the vessel has also threatened the health of employees: an investigation in 2018 revealed that seawater began entering the vessel below the waterline through a hole in the vessel’s Bilge Holding Tank, compromising the hull’s integrity and creating hazardous conditions for those on board. Under the plea agreement, the companies have been placed on four-years of probation, including a comprehensive environmental compliance plan to ensure that the vessels comply with all applicable national and international marine environmental protection laws.

References and Further Reading


Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA), Acting Executive Director Mr. Randall M. Dobayou: