The Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF), in collaboration with Search for Common Ground (SFCG), has released the first human rights situation report on Lofa County, indicating that human rights are frequently violated with impunity.
The report, released on Wednesday at the head office of the Search For Common Ground in Sinkor, covered three month of monitors from October to December 2013 in Lofa.
James Yarsieh, SFCG executive director, said that in May 2013, his organization and RRF completed a human rights baseline survey (HRBS), which found that human rights violations most frequently occur in four key areas: rape/ sexual violence, domestic violence, child abuse, and abuse by the security sector (illegal/arbitrary, detention, police brutality).
“This was followed by recruitment and training of community-based organizations, monitors who volunteered to participate in the human rights situation report. “We prepared checklists to be used by monitors taking into account the findings of the baseline report,” Mr. Yarsieh said.
Human rights monitors reported a total of 28 cases of child abuse with sixteen reports (57.2%) involving more than one kind of child abuse with categories including: child labor, 10 reports (35.7%) explicitly described neglect of some kind, and 11 reports (39.3%) indicating evidence of physical violence and abuse.
According to the reports, the youngest victim was four years old; the oldest was 17 years old with the average of the victims at 11, and fifteen victims, female, amounting to (53.6%), nine victims (males) amounting (32.1%), and four victims not identified by gender with perpetrators mostly identified in these cases as family or friends.
Eleven cases of domestic violence were verified; all reported cases of domestic violence indicated evidence of physical violence or injury inflicted on the victim, most often perpetrated by a male “friend” (which may be interpreted as a husband, a friend, a domestic partner, a boyfriend, or a fiancé, with no fatalities reported of all the cases.)
In recognizing these issues, SFCG and RRF, with support from the European Union (EU), have undertaken a project to address capacity gaps in human rights violations. The goal of the project is to create a space for constructive dialogue among human right actors in Liberia.
The objectives were twofold; to improve the quantity and quality of human rights monitors in two counties (Lofa and Bong); and to enhance the capacity of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INHCR) to coordinate human rights protection and promotion at the Country level.
Commissioner Macdilla Howard of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) said the commission, in collaboration with the RRF & SFCG, would work on the recommendations of the report for the betterment of the situation.
She expressed thanks and appreciation for the work of the RRF & SFCG to ensure that many incidences of the violence against women would be reduced in Lofa and others counties.