Child rights advocates in Liberia have expressed their disappointment in the government of Liberia’s failure to accept recommendations provided by the Human Rights Council during its 3rd cycle Universal Periodic Report (UPR).
The group of advocates includes Defence for Children-Liberia (DCI-Liberia), Plan International-Liberia, Liberia Children Forum, and Members of the National Children and Youth Advisory Board.
The UPR is a state-driven process, under the Human Rights Council that provides the opportunity for each member states to declare actions taken to improve the human rights situations. This, according to the UPR, is part of the fulfillment of participating states’ human rights obligations.
According to Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, Liberia continues to be calm and peaceful with no human rights violations. He made the remarks when he presented Liberia’s UPR to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in Switzerland via zoom conference. The report, however, was sent back by the state parties with 2018 recommendations.
Reading a joint statement presented by the group of advocates against the Liberian government’s action, DCI-Liberia Executive Director, Atty. Foday M. Kawah said that the UPR adoption of Liberia confirmed 166 recommendations were adopted but 52 noted.
“Among the ones noted, we regret the lack of political will to address female genital mutilations. Such statements are not justified by the facts given Liberia’s continued lack of accountability. Liberia’s approach also runs counter to SDG target 5.3 which eliminates all harmful practices, such as protection of the rights of a child, early and forced marriage and FGM with no significant progress on justice for victims has been observed,” Kawah said.
Additionally, Kawah expressed disappointment in the Liberian government’s failure to develop a legal framework in the Penal Code that explicitly criminalizes the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Specific penalties include prioritize the Strategy for the Protection of Girls against Child Marriage (2016) in conformity with the 2063 Agenda of the African Union and criminalize female genital mutilation; intensify efforts to prevent and respond to SGBV, as well as to criminalize Female Genital Mutilation in all circumstances and ultimately eradicate the practice; and expand the existing public awareness campaigns against FGM and other harmful traditional practices to all the country’s counties.
“It is unfortunate that the Government of Liberia will place a moratorium and Executive orders on the practice of FGM but cannot ban its practices in keeping with the Concluding Observations and Recommendations of the UPR, CEDAW, UNCRC, and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child,” he told Journalists in Monrovia.
Kawah, however, recommended that the Liberian government expedites the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and ensure the timely implementation of the four-year National Action Plan for Child Welfare and Protection for Liberia, and allocate sufficient resources for the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to implement the plan among others.
Kawah expressed gratitude to the state party for ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography.
He said, “the parties also expedited the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. They also enacted legislation that explicitly prohibits corporal punishment in all settings, including at home.”