Authorities of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) have pointed accusing fingers at officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) for constant violation of human rights across the country.
INCHR made the statement on Wednesday, September 19, in Monrovia at the launch of the Baseline Study Report for the Structural Provision of Human Rights Education for the LNP, and Policy Dialogue Depicting Next Steps under the theme, “Exploring the Provision of Structure Human Rights Education at the LNP: Practices Lesion and Impact on Society.”
The objective is to ensure that the project effectively brings to bear skills of mapping human rights education system [in this case, the police] by looking at the extent to which it is provided the associated quality.
The entity obtained a US$15,000 grant from the European Union (EU), through a partnership with the Danish Human Rights Institute (DHRI), to conduct the study and structurally provide human rights education, with focus on officers at the Police Training Academy Human Rights’ Education Curriculum.
Though some of the LNP officers invited to the occasion denied the INCHR’s claim of being one of the institutions culpable of rights violation, some admitted to using excessive force to subdue suspects at a given time and situation.
Janet P. Johnson, INCHR’s Director, Department for Education, Training and Information, said numerous complaints had reached the agency on alleged violations being committed by LNP officers, “but some of the allegations are far from the truth.”
Johnson said the Act which created the INCHR mandated the commission to promote and protect human rights.
Mrs. Johnson added, “The Constitution and other relevant laws of Liberia also empowered the INCHR to investigate complaints of rights violations presented to it by any person and to handle such complaints by thoroughly investigating research and hearings consistent with the due process of law.”
She said the commission draws government’s attention to human rights violations and makes proposals for initiatives, with the intent to end violations and, where necessary, recommend appropriate punishment for suspected perpetrators.
Johnson said INCHR also assists in the formulation of programs for the teaching and research into Human rights institutions of learning, professional institutions like the Liberia National Police Training Academy (LNPTA), and in some of the communities.
She said the commission is currently represented on the Civilian Complaints Review Board of the LNP, a mechanism to protect the rights of civilians who suffer abuses at the hands of combatants and the police.
“The rationale is to ensure that professional institutions, such as the LNP, respect and protect human rights in executing their duties and functions as well as to observe that inadequate human rights education or awareness in formal institutions hinders residents’ ability to claim their rights.”
She said the commission has the believe that inadequate human rights training for police officers and other duty bearers have the propensity to hinder respect for, and the protection of, rights of citizens and residents.
Johnson said the goal of the research, along with complaints of human rights violations, draws INCHR’s attention, particularly at the alleged hands of the police, identify plausible causes and make adequate recommendations to address the issue and “enhance human rights protection and promotion throughout the country by duty bearers.”
She said in other for INCHR to determine whether or not the frequent denials by the LNP of human rights violations and the failure to institute disciplinary measures against its personnel, whose conduct violate human rights standards, are the result of inadequate human rights education provided to LNP personnel.
INCHR’s Acting Chair Bartholomew Colley, said the project is a significant contribution to the vision of the commission, in order to institutionalize and decentralize human rights throughout the country.
Colley said to promote and protect the human rights of citizens, the baseline study is in compliance and fulfillment of the universal and African chapter of people’s rights.
He said the study is also in line with the 2005 and 1995 United Nations (UN) deceleration of human rights education and the 2004 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on human rights proclamation and education day, which goal is to promote values, beliefs and attitude that will sustain human rights purposes and democratic development.
Colley expressed the hope that after the launch of the baseline with the police, a similar study will be conducted with other military institutions so as to develop a responsible human rights security that will be able to resist all tension and promote human rights.
The study will take a keen look at the Liberian National Police Training Academy (LNPTA) Human Rights Training Curriculum, to determine whether or not it is adequate enough or structurally deficient to address issues of human rights violations.
The study targeted police officers, LNPTA instructors and commanders, Community Watch Forum leaders, and residents in four communities.