Civil Society Human Rights (CSOs) Advocacy Platform, with support from the European Union (EU) through Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED), on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 held a one-day technical working session for this year’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Liberia.
The UPR is a process that the UN Human Rights Council can do after every five years, taking into consideration all countries’ human rights records. Its recommendations highlighted some basic difference in human rights issues relating to women, children and girls, including prison condition.
Human Rights Platform secretary Adama Dempster said the daylong working session was intended to draft the universal periodic report on the maintenance of the respect for human rights in the country.
Dempster said that failure on the part of Liberia to report on the human rights situation in the country has the propensity to slow major international partners’ support for the country.
SHED Program Manager Godo Kolubah said his organization is working with the Civil Society Human Rights Platform in order for Liberia to meet all international standards on the respect for human rights. According to Kolubah, his organization is also working with the platform to provide an opportunity for Liberia to declare actions taken to improve human rights in the country. He said that Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), in collaboration with partners, has also embarked on discussions aimed at compiling Liberia’s report.
David Dolo, Human Rights Officer at the Liberia Office of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, assured the human rights community of his institution’s fullest cooperation aimed at enhancing its duty in the country.
The meeting, which was funded by the EU, the Center for Political Rights and the FinnCharchAid, brought together representatives from the government, local and international nongovernmental organizations, including the Ministry of Justice, the FinnChurchAids, the National Traditional Council of Liberia, and the United Methodist Church Human Rights Monitor.
In May 2015, Liberia submitted its National Report to the Human Rights Council in accordance with paragraph five of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21. Following the submission of the report, Liberia accepted a number of recommendations, including to swiftly implement actions to deepen efforts and dialogue, to establish an accountability mechanism for human rights violations committed in the past, continue the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to foster national harmony.
It is to ensure that perpetrators of gender-specific violence and rape of minors are held accountable for their actions; improve access to health services and economic assistance for victims; to abolish the death penalty in legislation to respect the obligations arising from the ratification of the 2nd Optional Protocol by Liberia; continue judicial reform to improve access to justice by promoting better coverage throughout the country and by updating its prison system; continue to intensify efforts to strengthen the rule of law and the criminal justice system by developing the capacity of the judiciary and security sectors; step up its efforts towards the ratification of other human rights conventions, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Since then, it has taken additional measures to give effect to the provisions in the convention; reinforce efforts to improve the standard of living of all Liberians; programs to improve the living condition of its people, particularly the most excluded, with the cooperation and technical assistance that is requested by the country; increase its efforts to improve the living standard of its population and, particularly, access to health care, education, work and safe drinking water.
The recommendations further called on the Liberian government to continue efforts in the field of health in the framework of the National Health and Social Welfare Policy and Plan; establish a follow-up mechanism for the National Health and Social Welfare Policy and Plan; put in place an accessible health- care system and consider applying technical guidance on preventable mortality and morbidity of children under the age of five years, which was developed by the WHO; increase children’s access to the educational system; intensify efforts to eradicate illiteracy, especially among women and girls.