The 25-year anniversary of the United Nations Convection on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) was yesterday celebrated by children who took to the principal streets of Monrovia voicing their anger against what they termed as “frequent violence and injustices” meted against them.
The children, under the banner of the “Joint Action Committee on Children,” a collection of child rights institutions, staged the memorial march remembering the late Alvin Moses, 4, and Reuben Paye, 7, who reportedly went missing on December 1, 2015, but were found dead the next day in the trunk of a black Toyota Avalon belonging to Henry O. Nandi, a Nigerian national.
The incident took place in the VOA Community along the RIA/ELWA highway.
The children took the protest to the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP), where they presented several recommendations to the police hierarchy.
The group’s recommendations were read on their behalf by Abraham M. Keita, the 2015 International Child Peace Prize Winner, and called on the police to re-open the late children’s case, and subsequently send it to court.
The protesting children recommended that the government constitute an independent team of human rights investigators to probe the case, including the causes of the children’s deaths and arrest suspect(s) for prosecution.
They asked that the police make official the exact location and present conditions of Alvin’s and Reuben’s remains, with detailed explanation.
The document also recommended an autopsy to be conducted on the bodies to determine what caused their deaths, and asked that Sam Collins, the police spokesman, apologize for his alleged utterance that the events surrounding the death of the kids were “entertaining.”
Adopted on November 20, 1989, the UNCRC provides global standards to ensure the protection, survival, and development of all children without discrimination.
Liberia, as a signatory, pledged to protect children from economic and sexual exploitation, violence and other forms of abuse and to advance the rights of children to education, healthcare, and a decent standard of living.
However, Keita said with all the signatories to international protocols, violence is alive and well to the extent that mysterious deaths continue to reportedly occur in the country.
Meanwhile, according to Keita, children in Liberia did not celebrate this year’s anniversary as doing so would mean that they were in favor of crimes perpetrated against children.
“We have decided not to celebrate but rather mourn the deaths of our colleagues who are victims of violence and injustice,” he said.
“We must never ignore the fact that children are silent victims of violence whose rights can be easily violated.”
The disappearance of the kids resulted in mob violence where the properties of the accused, including the vehicle where the kids’ lifeless bodies were discovered, were vandalized.
As a result of the violence and calls for action, police conducted an investigation, and deposited the boys’ bodies at the mortuary of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.
Later, police claimed that the kids died from suffocation or asphyxiation due to excessive heat in the trunk of the car in which they were reportedly playing. The police statement came without an autopsy report.
According to Keita, scientific research has proven that suffocation leaves no physical or visible marks, or bruises on the outer layer of the skin – the epidermis – and does not cause bleeding through the nose, as in the case of the late Alvin and Reuben.
“Our attention is drawn to the delay in justice, lack of autopsy report to substantiate the actual causes of the deaths and safe interment of the remains. Since December 2015 their bodies are still in the possession of the police – for which their parents are in dreamland wondering over the current state of their children’s corpses,” Keita said.