The Acting Chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Bartholomew B. Colley, has called for aggressive awareness on human rights issues in the country.
According to Mr. Colley, there is a huge gap in the understanding of many people on human rights issues in Liberia.
Colley spoke on yesterday, August 14, 2018, in Monrovia at the start of a two-day Technical Engagement session that would ensure the strengthening of the Commission’s capacity to engage with, and provide technical guidance to the Legislature on law reforms and bills on human rights advocacy and accountability.
“We have a lot to do in carrying out aggressive awareness on human rights issues in Liberia, because when you talk to people, you can feel that some of them do not understand human rights-related issues,” he said.
Mr. Colley said that until people understand more about human rights issues, the country will continue to face challenges in protecting and upholding basic human rights-related standards.
A presenter at the engagement, Andrew B. W. Jaye, Sr., Legal Counsel at the House of Representatives, said the legislature called for collaboration between the lawmakers and key human rights institutions in order to push issues of human rights through legislation.
Jaye said the Legislature continues to play its role in ratifying international treaties regarding human rights, but the implementation remains of concern to the Commission.
“When we strengthen collaboration, the Legislature will be able to act fast on key human rights instruments that will be brought for passage into law, because the legislative process is long,” he said.
According to Jaye, international treaties brought before the body for ratification are not altered; “the Legislature does not alter international treaties put forth for ratification, because these treaties are already signed by many countries, and therefore, we cannot change anything”, Mr. Jaye said.
John Josiah, a professor of Law at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, also made a presentation on the topic, “Legislation and Area of Interventions/Collaboration in the Ratification of Human Rights Treaties.”
Prof. Josiah observed weaknesses in the ratification of human rights treaties in Liberia and said until the country can ratify many of these treaties, implementation will not be effective.
“We sign many international treaties as a country, but the Legislature is yet to ratify them. The purpose of ratification is to domesticate, and once we don’t do that, there is a big problem,” he said.
Prof. Josiah called on institutions that are concerned with human rights to begin drafting legislation that will ensure that local laws can reflect the involvement of the country in international agreements.
Mr. Roosevelt Jajay, a staff from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the engagement is part of OHCHR’s responsibility to build the capacity of state institutions on issues of human rights.