Over 300 paramount and clan chiefs in Gbarpolu County have resolved never again to compromise rape cases whenever they are reported to their offices.
They made the statement on Saturday, January 18, at a one-day forum on rape held at the Bopolu Central High School. The forum was organized by the Liberia Media Democratic Initiative (LMDI) to highlight the roles and responsibilities of local government officials in handling rape cases.
The chiefs admitted that in the past they made some mistakes in handling rape cases, most times compromising these cases to the disadvantage of victims.
They said now that they know and understand what their limitations are, they will work to protect rape victims and expose individuals involved in this unlawful practice.
The chiefs pointed out that they did not know that they have no power or authority to judge or investigate rape cases, and assured that they will henceforth report any parent or chief who attempts to compromise rape cases in their districts, towns and villages.
They also promised to hold series of town hall meetings to adequately inform their people about the dangers and consequences of comprising rape cases.
During the forum, the over 300 chiefs learnt about the various processes involved in handling rape, such as reporting these cases to the police and judicial officials.
The chiefs also learned that they, the chiefs, who come in conflict with the rape law can be arrested, detained and prosecuted.
In his closing remarks, LMDI Executive Director, John Kollie, expressed gratitude to the chiefs for their timely response in the wake of the short notice given them.
He expressed the hope that the chiefs will serve as anti-rape ambassadors in their districts, towns and villages.