Liberia still delinquent in human rights reporting obligations
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in Collaboration with the Ministry of Justice has begun a two-day workshop for stakeholders on the National Mechanism for Reporting and Following-Up (NMRF) in Gbarnga City, Bong County.
The NMRF is a mechanism or structure that is a part of the Government’s mandate closely tied to reporting to, and engaging with international and regional human rights mechanisms, as well as following up their recommendations or decisions.
The two-day event which brought together civil society actors, government ministries and agencies, local authorities is to resuscitate the NMRF where States can only showcase how they have discharged their international human right obligations when they submit their reports to the relevant Human Rights Council Committees and Treaty Bodies.
Speaking at the official opening of the event, Francis Igiriogu, Human Right Officer of OHCHR said that the national mechanism is a call to national duty and it requires dedication and sacrifices from those appointed by their ministries and agencies, and as such, it was important to work as a team to achieve its objectives. “We are aware that Liberia still has many reports pending for different treaty bodies.”
Mr. Igiriogu acknowledged that some of these bodies have not even received Liberia’s initial reports. He named the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights pursuant to the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic Social Rights.
This situation, he said, should improve and this is the reason why OHCHR is supporting Liberia in resuscitating the NMRF to be actively involved in leading the process of data gathering and drafting of human rights mechanisms reports, something he believed will ensure that backlogs of Liberia’s treaty reports will be cleared in no distant time. “OHCHR has been steadfast in supporting Liberia to discharge her international human rights reporting obligations,” he pointed out.
He indicated that in these kinds of situations, writing and drafting of such reports is made easier when some persons are set aside as technical experts for the purpose. According to him, it creates a sense of ownership on the part of Liberians that participate in the process.
He says the process is also a reminder to state that it is time for Liberia to account for how they have implemented the human rights obligations subscribed to by showing verifiable evidence of such implementation.
The OHCHR according to him has provided support for the drafting and submitting of Liberia’s 3rd Universal Periodic Report (UPR) to the Human Right Council and also support the drafting and submission of the State report to the Human Right Committee as it concerns implementation. The Human Rights Director at MoJ, Kutaka D. Togba, who stressed the importance of the workshop, told participants to engage robustly in the training as it will help to make the necessary information available to ensure that government succeeds in making its reports.
Mr. Togba said everyone has a role to play in making Liberia’s case, and therefore working as a team is key to achieving such a goal. He said in the absence of mechanism they will not be able to track all of those backlogs that will place the country on top with others.
It may be recalled that OHCHR and MoJ held a validation exercise in Grand Bassa County, which came at a time when the government was expected to submit its third state report under the Universal Periodic Review. UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) the Member States.