By: Eldred Wlemongar Thomasfirstname.lastname@example.org
A local non-governmental organization, Prison Fellowship Liberia has reechoed concerns over what it sees a gross human rights violation, the continuous denial of those behind bars mainly pre-trail detainees to partake in elections in the country.
Pre-trail detainees are people in the custody of the state for allegedly committing different crimes and are perpetually kept behind bars without having their day in court.
According to the group’s Executive Director Rev. Francis Kollie, even-though the House of Representatives had written the Elections Commission to consider pre-trail detainees to partake in the voter registration process and subsequently the 2017 elections, but this is yet to happen.
Rev. Kollie pointed out that the human rights of these people must guarantee, even though they came in conflict with the laws of the land.
Speaking in an exclusive interview the GNN at his Congo town office, the clergyman expressed displeasure over the rejection of a request from the House of Representatives to ensure pre-trail detainees exercise their democratic franchise during the 2017 polls.
Rev. Kollie lamented the denial of these people coupled with the unacceptable treatment as gross violation of their human rights and those responsible must be brought to justice.
The prison advocate blamed the increase in the number of pre-trail detainees on what he described as blind justice in the courts.
He admonished the National Election Commission and other international election partners to seriously consider Liberians in such category or condition to partake in electoral processes, nothing they too have rights.
It can be recalled that Representative George Mulbah of Bong county had raised the concern before plenary which was seriously debated by the lawmakers and a communication subsequently written the National Elections Commission.
“I want the government and international community to intervene and ensure that those behind bars are giving their rights to be a part of electoral processes, Rev. Kollie intoned”.
He noted that the prolong stay of people in detention poses serious security threats to the state and its people.
“This is a highly sensitive security issue because these people can break jail any time and such action can result to lawlessness like Liberia has witness at the Voinjama Correction Palace in Lofa and Grand Gedeh Correction Palace among others.
He pledged the Prison Fellowship renewed commitment to aggressively and responsibly advocate for the human rights and dignity of people who are at various Correction Centers across the country.
Prison Fellowship Liberia is a faith based and human rights that was established 1986, but became progressive in its work in the 1990’s.
Rev. Kollie outlined some of the Fellowship contributions to restoring the human dignity of prisoners as the renovation of prison and detention centers and health facilities, donation of essential needs including food and clothing.
He concluded that the Fellowship in consultation with its team of lawyers will engage the National Election Commission legally to provide reasons why pre-trail detainees could not be part of the 2017 elections after a request from the House of Representatives.
When contacted the Communication Director, Henry Flomo did not comment further on the matter, but said the Commission has been done with voters’ registration and are moving ahead with other processes leading to the elections.