The Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH), a local non-governmental organization, has presented seventy-five copies of the Domestic Violence Act to the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia (NATJL).
Presenting the Act on February 1, 2021, Mmonbeydo N. Joah, Executive Director of ORWOCH, said the Act was printed with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC) for onward distribution to Magisterial Courts, prosecutors, trial judges and SGBV coordinators across the country.
She revealed plans to make similar donation to the Prosecutors Association of Liberia in the coming weeks.
Ms Joah, an attorney-at-law, saw the need to have lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and county coordinators have access to the Domestic Violence law to enable implementation from an informed background.
She said, “I know most of my colleagues think that public awareness and education is necessary, but lawyers being eyes of the law need to have understanding of the Domestic Violence Law if it must be implemented.”
Ms. Joah also noted, “Most of the magisterial court judges have not even heard about the law and they are the first court of instance that received most women and children that are directly affected. So, if they are not educated about the law, they cannot give them justice.”
She said while it is good to educate the public that the law is important; it is also necessary to create awareness among judges and legal actors for proper implementation.
Speaking further, Joah said discussion surrounding the act has been in the country since 2017, and has been seeking means to address session 16 of Panel law.
She recalled that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issued Executive Order 92 that brought the act into effect and later signed into law in 2019 by President George M. Weah.
Joah said the law talks about persistent non-support, economic and physiological abuses among others as offenses against women and children.
She said the act that was signed into law by President Weah covers session 16 of the penal code that addresses most of those laws that are missing, adding that “Whatsoever that is not written is not a crime, that is why the domestic violence law is important.”
“Most of what women suffer are abuses but we often overlook them because we do not take it as it should be; so, as we submitted those copies of the law today, we hope many partners can come in and support the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia to enable the law have more force when it comes to the implementation,” Ms. Joah said.
She said under ORWOCH Empowering Women, Girls, Men and Boys (ENOUGH) project; the institution will monitor how the court implements the Dogmatic Violence Law to inform stakeholders.
Receiving the items, Her Honor Eva Morgan Mappy, Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, thanked ORWOCH for the provision of copies of the law to the Trial Judges, stressing that it was important for legal actors have access to the Domestic Violence Law.
Judge Mappy said copies of the law will be distributed to the court of the first instance (magisterial courts) that served as the face of the justice system across Liberia.