United Nations Agencies in Liberia have called on the Government of Liberia to implement fully the 2018 recommendations proffered by member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council during their November 2, 2020, Universal Periodic Review (UPR) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The government is expected to report to the international community on February 6, 2020 in Geneva addressing the recommendations.
Following the government’s third cycle UPR presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last year where Justice Minister Musa Dean spoke of Liberia being free of any human right abuse, the international community sent back 218 recommendations for implementations, puting the government under pressure now to respond as to whether or not it will implement the recommendations.
As a means of addressing those recommendations, the government convened a National Human Rights Actions Plan Steering Committee that brought together various UN agencies as well as diplomatic missions in Liberia on February 2, 2020 for a one-day dialogue.
Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean at the dialogue told the gathering that the meeting was geared towards government’s representatives reaching a consensus as to which recommendations to accept and which one to hold in abeyance.
Minister Dean said: “Our government is also aware of the huge technical and financial constraints which could impede the effective implementation of those recommendations. Hence, you were invited, as key partners, to present your comments to support the implementation of particular recommendations, especially those you advanced, and to present an advocacy of the acceptance of these recommendations.”
He said as Liberia had presented its 3rd UPR report in fulfillment with its human rights treaty reporting obligations, the government assures its continued commitment to remain engaged with the Human Rights Council and other treaties in order to further improve and strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.
Uchenna Emelonye, Country Representative of the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR), encouraged the government to implement all of the recommendations sent by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Mr. Emelonye who pledged the OHCHR’s full support to the implementation process said his office deals with the rights of all, and as such every recommendation is important.
Stephen Rodriques, UNDP Resident Representative to Liberia, called on the government to continue to criminalize and ultimately eradicate sexual and gender-based violence, stressing on Female Genital Mutilation and harmful traditional practices including trials by ordeal as activities that violate people’s rights.
Rodriques said the government should ensure that all persons in Liberia are in full compliance with Liberia’s international obligation. He also called for reduction crowdedness in prison and improve condition therein.
He said it is important that the government strengthens the legislative framework with the view to granting the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission more prosecutorial powers as well as clear political independence to fight predatory corruption in order to boost the economy.
Rodriques further assured that UNDP is willing to support the government to implement provisions in the National Human Rights Actions Plan for the protection of vulnerable individuals including children, persons with disabilities person with albinism, and persons diagnosed with AIDs.
A highly placed UN source told Daily Observer that “It is a movement for Liberia to be bold and to signal to the international community the direction in which it will move.”
It may be recalled that Minister Dean, heading Liberia’s six-member delegation for the UPR online meeting last year said that since 2015 Liberia continues to be “Calm and peaceful with no human rights violations.” However, human rights defenders and Civil Society Organizations in Liberia had less rosy perspective about the statement presented by the government about the issues of human rights across the country.
Minister Dean said every incident bordering on human rights abuse or violation under the laws of Liberia and international instruments to which Liberia is a signatory, is routinely investigated, those responsible charged, prosecuted and punished consistent with the law.