‘Death Penalty No Solution for Rape’

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Elizabeth Hårleman, outgoing Deputy Head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Liberia

“…it will only take a prepared and efficient justice system to bring a massive reduction or elimination of rape cases across Liberia,” says Outgoing Swedish Deputy Head of Mission

Outgoing Deputy Head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Liberia, Elisabeth Hårleman, has cautioned Liberians against the consideration of capital punishment for perpetrators of rape and other heinous crimes but suggests that a strong justice system implementing the rule of law will effectively reduce the high rate of rape cases and gender-based issues in the country.

“I think the death penalty will not be the solution. There are too many pre-trial detainees languishing behind bars. There is a need to fast-track those cases and ensure there is much invested in awareness at all levels of the communities. People need to know the laws and the consequences that follow when those laws are broken,” she said.

She said the government of Sweden is strongly against the death penalty proposal for all rape perpetrators, but noted that it will only take a prepared and efficient justice system to bring a massive reduction or elimination of rape cases across Liberia.

Ms. Hårleman said her government has worked with the UNDP and the Liberian government in establishing Criminal Court “E” in order to fast-track sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases and the judges of the court who were, at some point in time, paid by the Swedish government with support from other partners, are now on Government of Liberia’s payroll and receiving their salaries.

The Swedish diplomat further added that all cases, small or big, should be given equal attention when it comes to prioritizing cases on the court’s docket.

“It takes time but we are confident that things will become better. It only needs people with good hearts who demonstrate love for their country and their fellow human beings,” Hårleman said.

On corruption, she said her mission is not directly involved with checking out on who is corrupt or not but they have been working with the government in a lot more ways to help improve systems.

“We have had some capacity building programs with the Ministry of Finance and since then, they are now displaying to the public through their website, a comprehensive budget report. People should just visit it, download the materials, and read for themselves,” she admonished.

Ms. Hårleman added that integrity institutions such as the General Auditing Commission (GAC), the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC) should receive the needed support and independence to do what is required of them.

“GAC produces very good reports. Use those reports and act in the best interest of your country. We are partners but it is you who will build the Liberia you want, not us. We contribute to programs, implement our own in your country but we have limitations. It is you who sustain those programs. If you don’t have good financial discipline, we can’t do the job for you,” she said.

The Swedish diplomat told the Daily Observer that her country’s development arm has signed an agreement with the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) to help to provide more education and engage the government in the fight against corruption in the country.

“We have signed an agreement with CENTAL on an anti-corruption campaign. It is a three and a half years program. It is a Liberian organization run by Liberians and it is working with fellow Liberians to get the job done for Liberia,” Hårleman added.

She said the Swedish Development Cooperation (SDC) with Liberia is providing support to the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) in capacity building on revenue collection.

“No country survives or develops without taxes. This is not just a government thing. Every Liberian needs to understand this and contribute to nation-building. And government, too, must show the public how it uses the money from taxpayers. That’s how a country moves forward,” Hårleman emphasized.

Madam Hårleman, who oversaw series of programs of the Swedish Development Cooperation (SDC) in Liberia, has exhausted her stay in the country but, ahead of her departure, she told the Daily Observer that she was pleased that Liberia is on its recovery path.

“It’s been an interesting four years. It’s been a great time. I have learned a lot. There have been challenges but also a lot of positive things. We have a project in Liberia that we have implemented very successfully, I can say,” she said confidently.

Elisabeth Hårleman said her country has over the years supported and continues to support the Ministry of Public Works in its feeder roads rehabilitation program, and has worked with Mercy Corps to help build capacity for young Liberians.

“We are not here to brag about how much we have accomplished. Numbers are important but sometimes they are not the matter. One case is that you can train one million young people to go out and serve their communities, but you may see only a hundred of them making an impact. That’s how it goes at times. What matters most is the impact of our programs,” she said.

She recalled that when she came to Liberia four years ago and took on her role as Deputy Head of Mission, not many alleys and streets in Sinkor were paved or well-conditioned, but today they have been repaired thereby making movement around the town very easy.

Impact of COVID-19 on Sweden’s programs in Liberia

Ms. Hårleman said COVID-19 affects the country but their programs are tailored around a plan that has all it takes to be accomplished.

“We are a responsible donor country and ours is to follow systems that help keep our programs alive.

“These things happen. Things change and, as such, we should always be ready to embrace the challenges that follow. We have flexibility. Other things that were not a priority before can become a priority now. Times and conditions change things and all we can do is to make the needed positive impact at the levels we are to,” she said.

She noted, however, that because of COVID-19, almost all of their programs are experiencing delays but they are not short of ideas to contribute in order to help mitigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Death penalty is the solution for rape in Liberia! If the intensity and rampant occurrences of rape in Liberia were the same in Sweden, Elizabeth Hårleman, outgoing Deputy Head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Liberia would never have such a “kumbaya my lord kumbaya o lord kumbaya” opinion!

  2. Death penalty is not a deterrent to rape. Please people, let’s not try it.

    Some women are untrustworthy. Some women will lie to their gazook. So what happens after a poor guy cannot afford a good lawyer, who has been falsely accused, and gets hanged until death? A few years later, there’s a recantation by the accuser. But of course, by then, the family of the falsely accused dead man wants justice. What happens? Jesus Christ is no longer present physically on earth. The dead man will not resurrect by Jesus until the end of age. The damage has been done. What happens next?

    Please, let’s not try it!

    Justice is not just-ice.

    • You are talking about cases of domestic violence and pleading for people who don’t know how to walk away because they are the stronger. But what about the infants and young defenseless children? Or do you think they too put themselves in a position to be raped?

  3. Mr. Hney, governments are aware that “people” are able to lie every single salt out of any soup” once they intent to actually lie! So those to be hanged for raping shall be bastardly and devilish swines as these:

    “Family sources who spoke to this paper on anonymity said the lawmaker Representative, Morais T. Waylee (UP-District #2 Grand Gedeh County) has accepted responsibility for the act and has promised to shoulder the financial burden, but asked that it remained under cover.”

    “I am the one who did the act,” Chuluty told FrontPageAfrica shortly after he was charged with the Crime of Rape inn violation of the Act to Amend the New Penal Code Chapter 14 Section 14.70, approved December 29, AD 2005 and Published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 16, 2006.”

    And for those suspects or accused for whom the circumstantial evidence may not be strong enough, we shall bring in people like the GREAT TAMBA who has been invited by the local government in Grand Kru and elsewhere.

    WITHOUT DETERRENCE, BOY OH BOY THE WORLD WOULD BE WORST THAN THE JUNGLE! SO THE DEATH PENALTY IS THE SOLUTION FOR RAPE IN LIBERIA!

  4. ONCE “people” INTEND (not intent) to actually lie, they will lie every single salt out of any soup” no matter how very salty that soup may be! So the gallows shall be for people like lawmaker Representative, Morais T. Waylee, Johnson Chuluty, etc.etc. and also this one who has raped that poor three year old little baby.

  5. Yes my dear comrade Mr. True Nationalist….
    There are a number of techniques that can be effectively employed in order for the truth to be arrived at. However on the touchy subject of rape, I think the government of Weah can find other ways to punish a prosecuted rapist than killing him or her. How’s about life imprisonment without the possibility of a parole? Isn’t that a stiff punishment for a rapist?

    Comrade Nationalist, regardless of how the subject of rape is tossed, sliced, discussed or bandied, rape is a horrific crime. All criminals must be held accountable for their crime. More importantly, I am not a defender of a guy or woman who rapes a child, a woman or a man. My point is that there are other forms of punishment that can be used to deal a rapist a severe blow.

    You’ve mentioned the name of an “ungentleman”. If my memory serves me right, he’s the one and only Morias, a lawmaker from Grand Gedeh county who impregnated a thirteen-year old niece of his. According to Morias, he contacted and obtained the approval of the father before the sexual affair began. Meanwhile, the political enemies of Morias argued that the love affair was a rape because of the girl’s age.

    If we’re talking about the same Grand Gedeh county lawmaker, let us agree that this case poses an ethical delemma.
    Question: If the father of a thirteen-year old agrees for his daughter to be wedded, does the law of the land have a moral authority to quash or forceably abrogate the wishes of the father? It is customary for something like that to be done in Liberia. In that sense, Morias did not rape the thirteen-year old. On the other hand, if Morias had impregnated the young lady without the approval of the family, it would have been seen as a rape. I am speaking for myself.

    The crime of rape is not the most henious. The Bible states that:
    1. Thou shalt not steal. Tell me, do you think “some” people do not steal in Liberia? So if a government official’s hand is caught in the cookie jar, should she or he be put to death? We are better than that.

    2. Thou shalt not covet your nextdoor neighbor’s wife. Please don’t laugh. Do you think men in Liberia do not covet those beautiful Bassa women or those slender build Vai women and so on? Last question….if a lustful man aims his big eyes on a beautiful Liberian woman, should he be put to death? No crime acceptable in the eyes of the creator.

    Peace

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