SEARCH, Partners against Making Rape Bailable Crime

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Participants shortly after the meeting.

Recommend livelihood component to empower parents of victims against compromising rape cases

The Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children’s Hope (SEARCH), a local non-governmental organization (NGO), and its partners advocating for children’s rights have agreed to collaborate to address the rights of children across the country.

At a one day partners’ meeting in Ganta, Nimba County last Friday, each of the group’s representatives spoke against the introduction of the new legislation  making rape a bailable offense.

“If we do not act together as NGOs fighting for the same goal, our lawmakers will repeal the rape law making it a bailable crime,” said Emmanuel Nahn, SEARCH Project Officer.

Furthermore the groups want the livelihood component of the law to be attached to empower parents of victims against compromising rape cases.

“If financial incentive is provided to parents of any rape victim, they will not easily compromise their cases,” one of the participants said.

The collaborating organizations  agreed to use a simple version of the Children’s Rights Law which the Legislature enacted in 2015 to create the needed awareness. They  believe that since members of the 53rd Legislature enacted the law, it has not been fully implemented, something they think is making their work to protect children difficult.

“As partners advocating for children’s rights, we are forming a collaborative project to ensure that the rights of the children are fully implemented in keeping with the law,” said Matthew S. Karley, II, representing Youth Coalition for Education in Liberia (YOCEL).

SEARCH, YOCEL, the Defense for Children International (DCI), Africa Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) are the four local NGOs advocating for the rights of children. They are supported by Kids Rights, a Liberian-based organization that has won an international award.

The organizations meet four times a year to discuss issues affecting the rights of children and abuses against them.  Last Friday’s meeting in Ganta was the final one this year to review  their activities to address abuses against Liberian children.

The working session of the meeting

A. Alvin Winford, ANPPCAN program manager, said collaborating as NGOs advocating for children’s rights will make their advocacy stronger since they will not be speaking separately.

“The only way our children’s rights can succeed is through government’s commitment,” Winford said. He observed that during the course of the October 10 elections, none of the candidates for representative  spoke about protecting children’s rights in their platform.

Nahn is recommending the extension of the program to allow them to achieve their goal by incorporating an inter-NGO partnership, especially for international NGOs to share experiences with the local groups.

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