A Director at the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Attorney Urias Teh Pour, has called on Liberians and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Liberia to make use of regional remedies in order to seek redress on human rights issues.
Atty. Pour made a presentation on “Special Character of International Human Rights Law and the Process of Domestication,” during a day-two engagement with the INCHR.
He said there are remedies provided by protocols signed by ECOWAS, the leadership of the African Union, and other regional organizations; therefore, Liberians should seize the opportunity to take up issues with these regional bodies for redress.
Attorney Pour, who is also a senior civil society activist, said they are resolved in pushing both locally and internationally, to ensure that a war crimes court is set up to prosecute perpetrators of crimes that occurred in the country during the crisis periods.
Adama Dempster, secretary general of the Civil Society Organizations Human Rights Action Platform, has promised that his fight to ensure that people account for their actions during the country’s civil crisis is not reversible.
Dempster said that as part of efforts for a war crimes court, several international experts on war crimes and crimes against humanity will be visiting Liberia to access the possibility of establishing a war crimes court in the country.
“Advocacy is about time and chance, therefore, we thought that we could give a space to get the best time and space, and we feel this is the best time to push our advocacy,” Mr. Dempster said.
According to Dempster, advocacy for the establishment of a war crimes court could not be pushed during the regime of President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf, because Madam Sirleaf is perceived as a party to some of the crimes committed against the Liberian people.
“The fact that somebody will admit to giving US$10,000 to a warring faction for humanitarian work, is a clear example that advocacy for war crimes court was not the best option during the past regime,” Dempster said.
Roosevelt Jayjay said the office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Liberia signed an agreement with the Liberian government on April 1, 2018, with a mandate to promote and protect human rights through different strategies, including technical cooperation arrangements, capacity building, training, awareness raising, technical assistance, human rights monitoring, investigations and documentation.
He said violations range from extrajudicial killings reportedly by police; police abuse, harassment and intimidation of suspects and other citizens; arbitrary arrest and detention, most time leading to protracted pre-trial detention; lack of accountability in cases of violence against women and children, including rape, domestic violence and traditionally harmful practices.
Jayjay said that on the other hand, impunity remains a serious problem for individuals adversely mentioned in atrocities committed during the civil wars as well as for those responsible for current and continued crimes.
The two-day Technical Engagement session with INCHR in strengthening its capacity in engaging with and providing technical guidance to the Legislature on law reforms and bills and human rights advocacy and accountability are among several activities the OHCHR is undertaken.