United Nations Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Rule of Law Waldemar Vrey said in spite of the progress made, Liberia human rights protection system remains weak with a number of past and present human rights violations across the country.
Mr. Vrey made the remarks over the weekend at the official launch of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platforms – Resolution 2017 held at a local resort in Monrovia, pointing out that the situation remains unaddressed, thereby contributing to a prevailing sense of impunity.
The purpose of the newly launched platform, among other things, is to consolidate human rights advocacy around Liberia to ensure its timely redress and change.
Mr. Vrey said many of the recommendations of the Truth and Recommendation Commission (TRC) remain unimplemented, adding that, “the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) remains under-resourced and incapacitated to effectively discharge its responsibilities.”
He also noted that “shortfalls within the Liberia human rights situation continued to (be characterized) by rape, sexual and gender-based violence, harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation, forced initiation into secret societies, accusations of witchcraft and determent of the freedom of speech,” Mr. Vrey said.
According to him, this situation calls for dedicated efforts and commitment to address these challenges facing the country and the people. These efforts, he said, must come from all sectors to address the situation, especially civil society organizations or actors.
“All civil society actors are well placed with such tasks to sensitize the citizenry about government policies and playing the important role of supporting and empowering the people of Liberia. Because of this reason, civil society actors must consider themselves as one and place your various organizations in the position to contribute to Liberia’s peace and stability by exercising accountability to human rights issues,” Mr. Vrey said.
He said many reports indicate that civil society activities continue to improve, but there exist limited capacity to monitor and report on human rights violations or to undertake initiatives on human rights issues.
Mr. Vrey said it is also clear that many of the human rights organizations are only based in Monrovia, while harmful practices continue to take place in the rural areas.
He further challenged civil society organizations in Liberia to focus on happenings in the rural areas and increase the positive impacts of civil society organizations in the country. Civil society organizations have a huge responsibility and duty to help Liberians continue to heal the wounds from the past by working together to find peaceful ways forward in difficult areas, he said.
Mr. Vrey said the United Nations will continue to stand with all civil society organizations to improve their capacities, expressing his extreme delight at being able to join the CSOs at the official launch of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platforms – Resolution 2017.
Reading the resolution, Adama K. Dempster said the platform will also ensure enhanced human rights advocacy in a manner and form that is more inclusive of the different human rights organizations and that strengthens human rights advocacy through partnership, coordination and solidity among human rights actors throughout Liberia.
The platform, he said, aims to also “amplify human rights advocacy for timely redress and change and to consider advocacy on any and all human rights issues, including women’s human rights issues, sexual and gender-based violence, child rights protection, business and human rights, freedom of expression, building a democratic space, human rights in prisons and land and property rights among others.”