According to Wikipedia, human rights in Liberia became a focus of international attention when the country’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was named one of the three female co-winners of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, all of whom were cited “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
But among Liberia’s very serious human rights problems are ritualistic killings, police abuse, incidents of so-called “trial by ordeal,” arbitrary arrests, the denial of due process, violence against women, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, child abuse, human trafficking, mob violence, and child labor.
Since the end of the Civil War in 2003, however, there has been a great deal of activity by a number of international and local organizations with the objective of establishing in Liberia a solid democracy based on human rights.
In line with this effort, Children Assistance Rescue Mission (CARM), a Liberian NGO, in collaboration with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Human Rights Protection Section over the weekend held a one day training of 50 high school students from 10 schools – and as many teachers, in Montserrado County to educate them on theirs and the rights of fellow Liberians.
Held at the Rock International Town Point Church on 3rd Street, Sinkor, the workshop aimed to establish human rights clubs at these schools in an effort to entrench the doctrine of human rights in the minds of young Liberians.
Speaking to the Daily Observer after the workshop, the executive director of CARM, Rev. Jarvis Bestman, said that the NGO hopes to hold the same workshop at schools across Liberia.
“This is an initiative to educate the youth to know more about human rights and their responsibility to society,” he said, adding that ignorant of their human rights under the law, Liberians tend to repeat the mistakes of the past.
The CEO of Women Against Female Genital Mutilation (WAFGM), Maima D. Robinson, said it is necessary that the young generation should be informed about the laws that protect people in the society. Telling the students that this takes “integrity to achieve,” Robinson called on them to stand up for the truth to help spread awareness on human rights in Liberia.
“We want the children to enjoy what we enjoyed. We are our own problem as Liberians so we need to work on ourselves to move forward,” she said.
Other speakers and participants at the event included representatives from UNMIL and the Ministries of Gender and Labor.
Participating schools included SDA, St. Simon Baptist, St. Samuel, Angel Net, Bishop Marwieh Institute, Ocean View Christian Academy, Rock International Christian Academy, Tubman High, Richard N. Nixon, and G.W. Gibson.
Rev. Bestman called on UNMIL, foreign embassies and international NGOs to assist his organization with resources to help extend the workshop to more schools.