“Take proactive steps” Human rights Advocates Tell President Weah gov’t In Geneva

By:Eldred Wlemongar Thomas |

The pro-poor government of President George Weah has been urged to take practical steps to address a number human rights violations in the country.

Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia and partners made the declaration when it restated its position for appropriate measures to be taken by the UN Committee to recommend to the government of Liberia to address the human rights concerns listed in the ICCPR report.

The Liberian society human rights advocacy platform reechoed their position at the just ended 123rd UN Meeting on Human Rights which took place in Switzerland, Geneva.

Speaking with the GNN from Geneva, Switzerland, head of the Liberian delegation, Rev. Francis Kollie Executive Director of Prison Fellowship Liberia maintained that in their quest to ensure the full implementation of the 26 list of issues, five key priorities are highlighted for consideration by the UN Human rights committee.

The decision, according to Rev. Kollie is a reply to the written list of issues submitted in March 2018, on the implementation of the ICCPR in Liberia.

Rev. Kollie named one of the counts as addressing past human rights violations allegedly committed during the civil conflicts in Liberia and the full implementation of corresponding recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established based on the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed in Accra, Ghana in 2003.

In a telephone conversation, Rev. Kollie intimated that in a consolidated campaign ongoing both in Liberia and abroad about 76 civil society institutions national and international have signed a letter of action addressed to the committee for consideration to push for accountability, Reparation for Victims and Memorization in Liberia.

Speaking on recommendations to the UN Human rights Committee, the human rights advocate said in keeping with the Truth Reconciliation Commission recommendation.

Rev. Kollie intimated that one of their keys recommendations is the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia that would be empowered to prosecute individuals accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, such as recruitment of child soldiers among others.

He named the setting of an independent committee comprised of government officials, a member of the Independent National Commission of Human Rights, and Civil Society Actors working on human rights and transitional justice to advise the government on justice and the rule of law.

“The government should guarantee the protection for human rights defenders inside Liberia, and ensure that those who intimidate or attack human rights defenders are brought to justice, Rev. Kollie stressed”.

According to him, a Trust Fund as recommended by the TRC must be set up to pay Reparation to victims of the civil conflicts in Liberia.

Liberia signed and acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2005.

“However, the reintroduction of the death penalty is in total contradiction with the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Rev. Kollie stressed”.

This protocol calls for State parties to place a moratorium on the application of the death penalty and work towards its abolition.

Liberia should repeal in its criminal laws the clauses that sanction the death penalty and adopt a new clause that abolishes capital punishment.

The INCHR was established by a Legislative Act in 2005.

Over the years the commission has been challenged to fully undertake its responsibilities as a result of restrictions to, and interference in its operations and financial autonomy.

He reminded the government of Liberia to act in compliance with the INCHR Act 2005 and the Paris Principles on national institutions to include restoration of its financial autonomy and granting of free access to funding from alternative sources.

Rev. Kollie said it must ensure the removal of the Commissioner who was controversially appointed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in contravention to the 2005 Legislative Act and the Paris Principles.

According to him, the civil society human rights advocacy platform Vet and appoint a new Chairperson to the INCHR to fill the gap of the chairperson as head of the commission.

He noted the Liberian civil society Human rights Platform frowned on the harmful traditional practices in the country making specific reference to Female Genital Mutilation.

‘’ This practice is in commitment to its international human rights obligations, however, many children both of school-going age and others continue to undergo FGM which is seriously undermining the education quest of the Liberian children.

He recounted that in 2017, the 53rd Parliament of Liberia struck out a criminalization clause on FGM in the Domestic Violence Act 16.21L based on claims that it has culturally sensitive nature of the practice.

But in January 2018, one week into the transition of the new government, an Executive Order (Executive Order No. 92) was issued by President Johnson Sirleaf seeking to ban FGM for girls under 18 years for a year.

The Executive Order nonetheless, Rev. Kollie noted leaves room for FGM to be performed with consent from adults, thus undermining the commitment to protect women and children from all harmful traditional and cultural practices.

“The government of Liberia should publicize and implement the executive order 92 signed by former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on to ban FGM on persons below 18 years, Rev. Kollie concluded”.

Meanwhile, upon the re submission of the Liberia Human rights advocacy Platform at the 123rd UN Meeting on Human Rights which took place in Switzerland, Geneva, calls for the establishment of a war crimes and economic courts has swelled back home with many civil society actors and the ordinary citizens prevailing the George Weah government to ensure the justice is served.

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