A two days engagement meeting on the protection of human rights recently ended in Monrovia. Organized by the Community Health Initiative (CHI) in collaboration with the Legal Association of Liberia with support from Irish Aid, the meeting aimed to empower communities to put into action policing mechanisms to respond to human rights abuses without using violent means.
About 40 individuals, comprising community leaders, women chairpersons, elders, youths, and religious leaders participated in the meeting.
The participants completed peer-to-peer learning, networking, and exchanges to help promote and create an enabling environment for the protection of human rights defenders.
Patricia Jubwe, a participant, said, “A human rights-based approach is a key to enhancing the work we do at the community level. This makes us understand that we must at all times prioritize marginalized people or groups in the work we do.”
Madam Jubwe, a resident of Logan Town, Monrovia, said the CHI program has made her to have a great impact on the lives of the people in her community, adding that it had made her to understand those regulations that are in place to punish anyone that will violate other people’s rights.
According to her, there is a need for beneficiary communities to be more diverse and inclusive and to ensure that people from different religious backgrounds can meet in one accord to join voices to impact the community.
It aimed at empowering communities to put into action policing mechanisms to respond to human rights abuses without using violent means.
Additionally, the dialogue is a component of the enhancing empowerment and protection of women and gender, as well as the minority of human rights defenders in Liberia.
Ramses A. Hutchins, the Program Coordinator of CHI, said the project is geared toward enhancing the empowerment and protection of women and gender as well as human rights defenders in Liberia.
“We must not discriminate in addressing human rights issues. As human rights defenders, we must remain relentless in championing the rights of people regardless of identity or sexual orientation. Everyone must have fair access to justice and live without fear,” Hutchins said.
Hutchins disclosed the project communities as Peace Island, Logan Town, Trowin and Rock Hill.
He said the project enables residents to learn to harness their work to ensure an enabling environment for the human rights defenders in their respective communities.
According to him, the results from the exchanges point out the significant impacts both peace island and Logan communities have made in creating a safe space for human rights defenders.
Hutchins said both communities are constantly engaging their people through outreach awareness to ensure people's rights are respected regardless of who they are, adding that these efforts are gradually changing the mindset of community dwellers to respect other people's rights.
Making a remark at the end of the peer-to-peer learning exchange, Sylvester Dugbe, a youth leader of the Trowin, New Kru Town community, said his community was excited about the exchange learning and appreciated the successes shared by the Logan town community.
He said his community will include lessons learned into their strategy to promote an enabling environment for human rights defenders.
He also added that the learning was a perfect timing for them to know other communities involved with the project so that they can build a stronger network to respond to human rights issues.
Terry P. Kennedy, Youth chair of Rock Hill Community, also commended the people of Peace Island for the level of achievements so far.
He said his community will use a similar approach of the Peace Island community to scale up the rights in defending people.
“We will build a stronger network with Peace Island to help strengthen advocacy engagements,” he said.