Liberia is expected to send its first corrections peacekeepers to South Sudan. The five officers, including three females, are scheduled to leave Liberia for South Sudan tomorrow.
They are Samuel W. Godoe and Rachel Dewah Nathan, chief and deputy trainer respectively of the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR); Marca J. Marvey, superintendent – Monrovia Central Prison; Bendu Sue Kollie, superintendent – Gbarnga Central Prison; and Tom B. Karmala, deputy superintendent – Bopolu Central Prison.
At a press conference yesterday at the Ministry of Justice, the Minister and Attorney General of Liberia, Fredrick Cherue, said the five BCR officers will be representing Liberia to the outside world, specifically South Sudan.
Minister Cherue called on the officers, who he said will not carry weapons like soldiers, to paint a good image of Liberia through their moral, ethical and professional training.
“You are going to train and help people to grow so that when they leave the walls of prison in South Sudan, they will behave like you. Go and tell the world by your performance what Liberia is about,” the Minister said.
He said based on their behavior and performance, the officers will be putting Liberia on the international page of peacekeeping.
On behalf of his colleagues, officer Godoe said that they are grateful for the opportunity to represent Liberia. He said that under the administration of Minister Cherue, much has been accomplished, including 38 policies approved to effectively run the prison system, a code of conduct for officers, and a strategic plan to address challenges faced by the prison sector.
“We promise to do our best to maintain the Liberian flag high. We will work professionally based on our training, follow the procedures and return with flying colors so our country and families will be proud of us,” he promised.
Hilary Siakor-Sirleaf, Assistant Minister of Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Justice, thanked President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the opportunity given to the officers to serve her and the people of Liberia. Although it has been a difficult journey, Minister Siakor-Sirleaf said under the President’s leadership, correctional officers have gained international exposure that has led to a professional workforce that is recognized around the world. After thanking the Justice Minister and all who made the mission possible, the assistant minister called on the departing officers to “make Liberia proud and show the people of South Sudan the respect they deserve, and know that you are equals to other seconded officers with whom you will serve.” Be respectful of the UN, model the best UN staff you have met and worked with; and most of all, be safe and be blessed.”
Commenting after their unveiling, the three female officers, who recently returned from a two-week pre-deployment Prison and Probation Officer Course in Sweden, said that they are grateful for the opportunity to represent Liberia, colleagues and families in the UN peacekeeping mission.
Details of the 18-month rotational deployment are being worked out through the Liberian Mission to the UN in New York. The five are the first Liberian Bureau of Corrections officers to participate in a peacekeeping mission. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was established in 2011 to support peace and protect civilians after years of nationwide political and security crises in South Sudan.
According to the BCR, this deployment will allow the officers to share Liberia’s experiences and best practices in maintaining a post-conflict correctional sector.