‘Human Rights Defenders of Liberia Need Laws, Policy for Protection’

Secretary General of civil society human rights Adama Dempster.  

The Secretary General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, Adama Dempster, said those who advocacy for human rights need laws and policy because human rights issues are centered on laws.

Mr. Dempster made the remarks at a four-day interactive and intensive initiative of human rights defenders from Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties who gathered in Ganta City to share ideas, experiences and brainstorm on drafting a policy document aims at protecting them in doing their work in their various communities.

“The process of drafting this key Human Rights policy document is for ourselves, therefore we need to strategize well, bring our best to the table and put forth concrete ideas which will eventually be formulated into a practical policy document to protect us,” Mr. Dempster said.

Accordingly, this initiative is expected to capture a holistic approach focusing on risk experiences on Human Rights work in Liberia, documents and international protocols that protects human rights defenders as well as challenges.

Mr . Dempster who also served as lead facilitator lauded the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Liberia for the support and described the drafting of the policy document as a meaningful initiative for human rights defenders.

Melvin Nyanway, representative of the United Nations Human Rights Officer at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Liberia, official organizer of the program, underscores the need for a Human Rights policy document in Liberia.

“We are with you in this endeavor, put forth your best, share experiences as well as practical recommendations to protect you in doing your work,” Mr. Nyanway urged Human Rights defenders.

Mr. Nayanway said the OHCHR was present to observe the process including providing their technical expertise in drafting the policy and they will be hopeful and happy to see a document that will be appreciated and welcomed by the Liberian government after the finalization from the actors themselves.

Mr. Nyanway who also served as one of the facilitators of the session informed the participants about the work, role and importance of the United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Liberia and the Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia.

According to him, Liberia is signatory to many human right treaties which are not banding on any country to uphold but the international best practice encourages the protection and promotion of all human rights including human rights defenders.

Kpana D. Watson who represented the office of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) at the session encouraged the participants to implement what they learn and to be an agent of change on human rights issues.

The program which is officially organized by the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights is sponsored by the European Union (EU) under the spotlight initiative. According to an official, it’s a five year program among other things is intended to counter violence against women and girls in Liberia.

Human rights defenders’ role is recognized in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by consensus by states back in 1998. 

The Declaration acknowledges that everyone’s right to defend human rights is fundamental if our human rights are to be respected and protected.