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UN Applauds Gov’t On Human Rights Issues, But…

By Alex Yomah
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Liberia, Mr. Niel Scott has applauded Liberia for being in compliance on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) treaty reporting mechanism.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) treaty report is in fulfillment of government’s human rights treaty obligation to the United Nations’ world body which mandates member States to adhere to all human rights treaties.
The UPR is a four-year human rights country situational review process that requires each state to submit a report on how it implemented the various international human rights obligations the State subscribed to.
Apart from the report submitted by the State, there are also reports submitted by CSOs, National Human Rights Institutions, especially those with “A Status” and other regional and international bodies that form part of the review documents.
Speaking at a one day National Human Rights Action plan Steering Committee on UPR’s recommendations for Liberia’s response dialogue meeting held in Sinkor on Tuesday, Mr. Scott praised the Liberian government for its periodic report but urged government to implement all the 218 human rights recommendations.
Few of those 218 human rights recommendations listed for Liberia to be implemented include; a call for Liberia to legislate 30% female candidate the exclusive draft bill before the legislature; for Liberia to take concrete measures to end conventional practices inconsistent with the rules of law, such as those related to witchcraft and trial by ordeal; strengthen the legislative framework with a view to granting Anti-Corruption Commission more prosecutorial power as well as clear political independence to fight predatory corruption in order to boost the economy; and establishment of the War Crime Tribunal issues, among others.
UN Coordinator said in an effort to expedite the passage of the 30% female candidate bill, he has met the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, and his Deputy, J. Fonati Koffa on the importance of the bill to the United Nations’ body.
Speaking earlier, Liberia’s Justice Minister, Musa Frank Dean indicated that the Liberia President, George Weah is committed to human rights promotion in Liberia.
Testament to President Weah’s Commitment to human rights protection and promotion, Justice Minister averred; “As you may be aware, Liberia was reviewed by the Human Rights Council (HRC), under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism on November 2, 2020, via a virtual platform, thereby completing its third (3rd) cycle report in fulfillment of our human rights treaty reporting obligation. We wish to assure you of our continued commitment to remain engaged with this Human Rights Council and other treaty bodies in other to further improve and strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights in the country”.
Minister Dean further divulged that 218 recommendations were made during the last constructive engagement with member state parties of the United Nations, and will be submitting the appropriate response to Geneva very soon. “Our government is also aware of the huge technical and financial constraints which could impede the effective implementation of these recommendations, especially those you advanced, and to present advocacy on the acceptance of these recommendations,” Minister Dean intimated.
“Finally, the dialogue will be divided into two sessions; the ‘open session’ with all participants, proceeded by a ‘close session’, for the Liberian Government’s representatives to agree on which recommendations to accept and which ones to hold in abeyance,” Minister Dean indicated.
Also speaking, UNDP’s Resident Representative to Liberia, Stephen Rodrigues buttressed Mr. Scott’s call for the 30% female candidate as keen amongst the 218 recommendations.
Among recommendations, UNDP is making an appeal for Liberia to consider recommendations such as, the proposed Women Rights as it relates to criminalizing and ultimately eradicating sexual and gender-based violence including female genital mutilation and harmful traditional practices, including trials by ordeal.
He said UNDP will hugely support member state that would prioritize the joint UN Rule of Law Program, UNDP such as the development of an ADR policy which also regulates traditional practices as an alternative to formal justice system. The policy among other things, outlaws traditional practices outlined the stands to feed into legislation when adopted.
He also named recommendations from eight countries regarding the strengthening capacity of independent national human rights institutions, which include; Building on previous institutional support by strengthening and providing resources to the INCHR to enable them to monitor, investigate and document human rights violations and implement the National Human Rights Action Plan; strengthening capacity; “Strengthen efforts to bring all prisons in Liberia in full compliance with Liberia’s international obligations. Reduce prison overcrowding and improve conditions; providing technical support through legislative reforms, support the provision of vocational training, probation services and pre-trial detention. This builds previous support regarding the advocacy for legislative reforms, capacity building and vocational training to reduce recidivism among others.
Also speaking, The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Country Representative, Uchenna Emelonye is entreating Liberians to accept all 218 human rights recommendations.
He vowed to work with the Ministry of Justice to formulate a roadmap that will ensure government’s adherence to the recommendations.

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