The government of Liberia and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have completed the joint validation of the country’s third cycle human rights report.
The validation exercise, which took place recently in Grand Bassa County, comes at a time when the government is expected to submit its third state report under the Universal Periodic Review. UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) the Member States.
Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 5 years. However, 42 States are reviewed each year during three working group sessions, dedicated to 14 States each.
In remarks during the opening of the validation exercise, the Acting Deputy Country Representative of the OHCHR Sonny Oyegbulah explained that the state report is important because it showcases how a country discharge their international human rights obligations.
“The process is a reminder to States that there is time for them to account for how they have implemented the human rights obligations they subscribed to by showing verifiable evidence of such implementation. Stakeholders consultations create awareness of the state human rights obligations among government human rights unit and advocate,” Mr Oyegbulah said.
Oyegbulah added the writing and drafting of such reports involves consultation with different stakeholders in the country, thereby making citizens aware of the state’s human rights obligations and creating a sense of ownership on the part of the stakeholders that participate in the process.
Oyegbulah further explained that apart from the current reports that are been validated, the country is still lacking behind in submitting reports to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other treaty bodies.
“In this direction, OHCHR will be supporting Liberia in resuscitating the national mechanism on reporting and follow up to actively get Liberia involved in the gathering of data and drafting of human rights report to ensure that the backlogs of the country treaty reports will be clear as soon as possible,” he said.
The present state reports, which submission was extended from February to March, base on the government of Liberia’s request by the UHCHR, focus on improving the rights of persons with disabilities, implementation of the provisions in human rights conventions/ treaties, the establishment of a national prevention mechanism for the protection of civil and political rights including the right to fair and speedy trial among other things.
On the overall, the documents state what legal and administrative steps Liberia has taken and to what extent implementation has taken place on the recommendations received from the last UPR.
Also captured in the UPR 3rd cycle report are challenges impeding efforts by the government to some of the address recommendations received from the last UPR.
In brief remarks, Kutaka Togbah, the Director for Human Rights Protection at the Ministry of Justice described the event as one of the important components of Liberia’s human rights treaties reporting obligations.
Togbah told the meeting participants that in the past, Liberia was labelled as one of the countries that have not been in par with its reporting obligations, but the situation is now turning around.
“We are working to fast-track our reporting obligations with various human rights bodies and have submitted reports to the committee on the Convention on the Right of a child, as well as the reports on the committee on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women,” he said.