EU Launches Project on Access to Justice in 3 Counties

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Correction and Police Officers at the Human Rights Training in Gbarnga Bong County. (Photo credit: Lorma Baysah, Executive Director of RHRAP.)

A new European Union (EU) funded project to promote respect for the rule of law, human rights and adherence to national and international standards for prisoners, and the strengthening of the capacities of justice actors in Liberia, will be launched on Wednesday April 10, 2019 at the Kakata Central Prison, Kakata City, Margibi County, a release has said.

Jointly implemented by Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED), a local non-governmental organization (NGO) and the Rural Human Rights Activists Program (RHRAP), in partnership with Finn Church Aid (FCA) in Finland, the two-year project, “Strengthening the Human Rights of Prisoners within Correctional Facilities and at Grassroots Level in Liberia,” will enhance local capacities.

This, according to the release, will include awareness raising and the provision of resources for the protection of prisoners’ rights in accordance with international human rights instruments.

The intervention covers Lofa, Bong, Nimba and Margibi counties respectively; and is further based on the outcomes of the EU Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) funded project that ended in January 2019, after two years of implementation.

The project will enhance the knowledge of law enforcement officers, including police, and correction officers, legal practitioners as well as enlighten the minds of community, traditional and religious leaders on the rule of law and international human rights standards.

In addition, the action will further increase provision of legal assistance for vulnerable detainees; establish a telephone system in prison facilities; strengthen dialogue, cohesion building and information sharing between stakeholders and improve attitude and practices, through awareness raising and advocacy at national and international level on issues of vulnerable detainees’ rights.

The action will also target some specific gaps that emerged through the previous EIDHR Project implementation such as the necessity to set up and support fast track systems to speed up hearings for pre-trial detainees, enhancing record keeping through the provision of computers and solar panels. Others include basic skill training and reading rooms for inmates.

SHED would manage and coordinate the project as well as jointly implement it with RHRAP in the four counties, while FCA in Finland would guarantee EU funding compliance.

In doing their work, the implementers will collaborate with government ministries and agencies with focus on the ministries of Justice, Health, and the Judiciary.

The partners will also engage traditional, community and religious leaders, other civil society organizations (CSOs) in addressing some of the many challenges faced by the Liberia justice system.

SHED, formerly Finn Church Aid (FCA) Liberia is a Liberian organization established as a national office following the departure of FCA after 10 years of work. It action is guided by international human rights standards and principles.

As a rights-based actor, SHED facilitates dialogues and peace-building between the right-holders and duty bearers to address root causes of conflict. It is a rights-based organization working on human rights, peace building, education, Watsan and livelihoods programs in Liberia.

Also, RHRAP is a local human rights organization with over 15 years experience working on the promotion and protection of human rights and rule of law in Liberia.

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