OHCHR Gets Stakeholders Perspectives on Law Reform

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Stakeholders who attended a two-day working session organized by the UN Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) in collaboration with the Law Reform Commission (LRC) have called for some law in the country to be amended as a means of protecting all citizens equally.

The exercise, which took place in Ganta, Nimba recently was sponsored by OHCHR with support from the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative intended to popularize and validate policy guidance, titled; “Traditional Practices and Customary Laws in Liberia: their Intersections with International Human Rights Principles and Standards.”

The exercise, which was launched in Voinjama, Lofa County, OHCHR is being implemented in five Spotlight counties to get citizens’ views on policy to be presented to the government “as an advocacy tool for change.” 

According to OHCHR, the Ganta working session was geared towards the revisions of some laws and practices as a means of identifying those cultural practices that violate fundamental human rights and formulate a strategy to address the human rights gaps. 

In a remake, Atty. Ramses Kumbuyah informed the gathering that adherence to the rule of law is necessary for peace, stability, and economic development of the country, however, “for laws to be adhered to, they must be clear, consistent, published, and well-circulated.”

“The objective of any law is to ensure that the interest of society is served and to address a particular concern. If the laws are filled with inconsistencies and gaps, they lead to interpretation, implementation subjectivity, and corruption,” he said.

Kumbuyah noted that when bills contravene the constitution, they are ineffectual and cannot become law, and when they enacted into law on the same subject without repealing the existing law, it creates conflict in the implementation of the law. Kumbuyah added in some cases, bills are passed into law without analysis of their cost implication, gender sensitivity, and human rights implications, this is also a problem in the Liberian law-making process.”

“The process will also enable you, the participants to consult among yourselves, to network, and explore the possibilities for future coordination and collaboration in the law-making process,” he disclosed.

Kambuyah furthered that the consultation among stakeholders, rule of law institutions, and development partners is important to create a framework for future coordination, collaboration, and cooperation.

Meanwhile, Francis Igiriogu, OHCHR Human Rights Officers in a proxy remake said the meeting will create a conducive environment for planning LRC 2021 activities and reinforce your vigor to carry out a law reform mandate which is important for human rights promotion and protection.  

“Law reform is invaluable in every country because as the society grows, it grows with new dynamics that often necessitate a review of laws and policies to meet present realities,” he said. 

Igiriogu said the legal frameworks of any country determine whether human rights and rule of law are respected and upheld adding that this is the reason why the OHCHR attaches great importance to the partnership with LRC by providing technical support to ensure that laws made by the Liberian legislature meet international rights standards.

Referring to Liberia’s third-cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Igiriogu said Liberia agreed to take steps to effectively abolish the death penalty and repealing the respective sections of the Criminal Code.

Parleh Harris, Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection said the work plan that is expected to be developed at the meeting will help goals and develop a focus on laws that will protect women and girls.

She said the law reform will help create laws that will benefit every citizen noting, “rape is a threat to women and girls that is the reason why law reform cannot be discussed without women.”

Harris said, “often people see rape as a women issue that is the reason why laws should be made that will protect the children and women and the citizens equally to ensure the country is not lawless.”

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