A new civil society organization, Network of Prison and Judicial Monitors, Tuesday, December 10, launched a program that is aimed at ensuring higher standards in Liberia’s prisons as well as more humane treatment of convicts.
The new organization will monitor prisons across the 15 sub-political divisions of Liberia and play an advocacy role on unsanitary and overcrowded conditions of various facilities. The Network also plans to look at cases that have seen the trials of inmates delayed.
The head of the Network Mr. N. Russell Allen said, “The organization is joining the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and others civil society organizations (CSOs) for the improvement of prison facilities in the country.”
He said the organization has identified twelve independent civil society organizations as partners for the efficient operation of the network in Liberia.
Mr. Allen disclosed that the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Community Aid for Sustainable Empowerment (CASE), and the Liberian Association of Psychosocial Services (LAPS) were signatories in support of the network.
According to him, the network was being funded by member organizations as an initial way to begin operations across the country.
Mr. Allen has described the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), on Center Street, as one of their prime areas of concentration due to its over-crowdedness and other vices.
He said MCP compound has outlived its usefulness and needs to be relocated, stating the need to promote and protect human rights at prisons in the country cannot be understated.
Mr. Allen added that the organization will engage stakeholders through the rule of law to achieving the network’s goals.
He used the occasion to urge the Judicial Branch to maintain its independence, “because human rights are foreign to no culture,” he furthered that, “the government needs to create the environment for ensuring human rights are maintained in the country.”
According to Mr. Allen, the network would ensure prisons are monitored in collaboration with law enforcement and the justice sector as part of its initiative as a civil society organization.