-Says UNMIL’s Deputy SRSG
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) of the United Nations Mission of Liberia (UNMIL), Waldemmar Very, yesterday observed that ineffective accountability for misconduct by officials working within Liberia’s justice system poses serious human rights concern that requires considerable attention.
DSRSG Very also named prolonged pre-trial detention, unhealthy prison conditions, impunity for sexual and gender based violence and harmful traditional practices as some of the other human rights related challenges.
The UN official made this observation when he donated equipment, furniture and human rights materials valued at US$14,883 to support the establishment of a human rights library at the offices of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA).
“Effective human rights protection promotes peace and stability as it provides legal, political and social framework within which conflicts can be peacefully resolved,” the UNMIL DSRSG said. “The Liberia justice system is challenged with perennial human rights concerns.”
He noted that he was confident that with the capacity so far developed, and complemented by resources like the library, Liberians in general and members of the bar in particular are sufficiently capacitated to support the government in undertaking the numerous reforms including those outlined by President George Weah in his annual message to the Legislature.
“There is no doubt that these reforms seek to entrench a human rights culture in Liberia and uphold the rights of all Liberians,” Mr. Very suggested.
According to him, the President’s message seeks to address discriminatory provisions in the constitution and promote national reconciliation and social cohesion with the ultimate objective of building enduring peace for Liberia.
“As members of the bar, your technical expertise will be solicited and required to aid the process of translating the President’s vision into reality,” noted DSRSG Very. “I, therefore, encourage you to make full use of the resources in this library to support the president’s agenda.”
The UNMIL’s deputy DSRSG explained that human rights play a pivotal role in the governance of every modern society as they contribute to ensuring that duty bearers are held accountable.
“Human rights also provide a framework within which social cohesion is forged and the rights of all individuals, no matter their status in society are respected,” DSRSG Very indicated.
According to him, as key players in the protection of the rights of the people, lawyers, judges and other justices and security sector actors must update their knowledge of human rights’ norms and standards that are applicable to the administration of justice in Liberia.
“This library is meant primarily to enhance the human rights knowledge of members of the bar,” DSRSG Very noted.
He indicated that it provides lawyers with resources that enhance their capacity to protect the interest of their clients and contribute to the overall governance of Liberia.
UNMIL’s mandate ends in just eight weeks, and in this regard various interventions are in place to enable the UN system continue to partner with Liberia in its peace building efforts.
“The office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights will commence operations in Liberia. This office will continue to support national institutions like the Independent Commission on Human Rights to continue the work of building a human rights protection mechanism for Liberia,” Vrey said.
Receiving the items, LNBA’s President, Cllr. G. Moses Paegar, lauded the DSRSG for the donation and assured him that his association will do everything possible to ensure that human rights’ issues are seriously addressed by lawyers with the aid of the library.