The European Union Delegation and the Embassies of its Member States resident in Liberia – Germany, France, Ireland and Sweden – issue the following statement:
The EU shares the deep concern expressed by the Government and people of Liberia regarding the alarming rates of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the country.
The EU takes note of the recent, deep public engagement on this important issue, including demonstrations on the streets of Monrovia. Likewise, the EU recognises the initiative taken by H.E. President George Weah and his Government to find ways to address this profound problem.
SGBV is perpetrated against women, men and children, often against the most vulnerable in society and it must be stopped. Freedom from violence is a fundamental human right, which must be realised and protected in every society.
The EU therefore remains committed to supporting Liberia in eradicating all forms of SGBV and strongly welcomes the increased commitment shown by the Government in this area, a commitment made evident by the recently appointed Presidential Committee on SGBV. The EU also commends the people of Liberia for their recent expressions of solidarity with the survivors and victims of this violence. Freedom of expression is a cardinal component of a democratic society and is enshrined in the Liberian constitution. We urge all parties to respect this freedom as the country continues to have this important national conversation.
Ending SGBV requires a spectrum of interventions from prevention, to care, to response and to justice. It requires the support and contribution of all citizens and partners, and political will at all levels.
Through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative and several bilateral programmes, the EU and its Member States have partnered with the Government and people of Liberia in many of these intervention areas, including: preventing SGBV at community levels; supporting access to justice for survivors and victims; and, strengthening the response capacity of relevant institutions – including One Stop Centers and Criminal Court E. The EU will remain committed to these key sectors.
However, the EU strongly opposes the death penalty, at all times and in all circumstances. It is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which is incompatible with the inalienable right to life. It is irreversible and ineffective as a deterrent to criminal behaviour.
Liberia has signed the Optional Protocol on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and, in keeping with its provisions, has instituted a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty. Likewise, chemical castration violates international rules on torture and it is cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as defined in the ICCPR.
The EU welcomes Liberia’s full accession to this Covenant and its optional protocols, and calls on Liberia to honour its international human rights commitments and to continue the great strides it has made in maintaining peace and strengthening democracy.
The EU stands firmly by the survivors and victims of SGBV, their families and communities, and we will continue to work with the Government and people of Liberia to end SGBV in all its forms.