A Coalition of rights based group operating in the country under the banner, “Liberia Initiative for the Promotion of Right Identity and Equality (LIPRIDE)" has released a policy review paper to remind the Government of Liberia on the upholding of various human rights issues.
The group comprises: Action Aid Liberia (AAL), Stop AIDs In Liberia (SAIL, Liberia Women Empowerment Network (LIWEN), DOMAFEIGN (the future), National Association of Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (NATPAH), Association of ,Liberian People Living with HIV and AIDS (ALL+), LEGAL), Liberian National Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (LIBNEP+), United Sisters, Leadership Institute for Women (LIW), Youth and ,Adolescents Living with HIV and AIDS (YAL+), Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation (PIRE), University of Liberia and Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL)
The group was established in March 2012 due to increase in Human Rights Violations toward Key Affected Population (Women, Girls, PLHIV, Key Affected Population. MSM, IDUs, Sex Workers, and other Discriminated Groups) to protect and advocate for the rights of discriminated.
It serves as a platform to support effective and meaningful participation of key affected population in the Coalition action points, financial gaps, policy, programmatic dialogues, and other activities, with a focus on social transformation as it relates to Diversities, Acceptance and Tolerance of all marginalized groups.
Reading the report over the weekend in Sinkor at a Policy Review Analysis Report dialogue, a member of the coalition, Evans Adofo, outlined various human rights issues in the country that need to be addressed- their impact, gaps, lessons or action points required.
Mr. Adofo said, for instance, the Inheritance law which only gives the right of inheritance to the boy child needs to be looked at because the only impact the can country boast of is when it was highlighted in the CEDAW report to the human rights council of the United Nations.
Mr. Adofo, on behalf of the Coalition, said gap identified is the law failure to recognise the rights of girls especially those perceived as lesbian women to a right of inheritance, inadequate effort to ensure actual implementation of the law and little awareness to educate more women.
Mr. Adofo pointed out that the country’s rape law is also undermined and not holistic because no portion in it calls for reprimanding those who compromise rape cases.
He cited slow trial of rape cases, limited awareness about the rape law among the communities, poor coordination in addressing rape cases at the community structures, lack of forensic DNA examination apparatus to ascertain facts rape complaint, as undermining factor in seeking justice for survivors.
The group suggested engagement with the female legislative caucus at the Legislature, Female Lawyers Association of Liberia, Women NGO Secretariat, traditional leaders and the traditional council to increase awareness across the country and consider rape as a behaviour change problem.
“There is need to address rape as a behaviour change problem. The court sessions on rape trials should converge frequently to address delays in trial, there is need to establish a forensic lab for rape cases in the country and building police-community relationship in order to build confidence in the community and facilitate timely reporting and reprimanding of perpetrators of rape.” Evans quotes the report as suggesting to government and other stakeholders.
Evans: “There is no clear mechanism to address the issue of stigma and discrimination for people of the Key Affected Population that are living with HIV. Few people are aware of the HIV and AIDS law. The 1,500 Liberian Dollar penalty for those who violate the HIV law is inadequate. There is need to increase the capacity of professional health workers to offer tailored rights based health services to Key Affected Population during utilization of health services.”
He wants HIV awareness and activities for the upholding of human rights to be centralized to allow people whose rights have been violated especially women, girls, sexual minority and other discriminated groups to seek and live in peace.
LIPRIDE is in partnership with the Liberia National Police, Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Youth and Sports, UNAIDS, UNFPA, National AIDS Commission, Independent National Human Rights Commission and National AIDS Control Program.