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H’Rights Defenders Pressure Gov’t

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By Elbie Sebleh

MONROVIA: Over thirty human rights institutions, under the banner: “Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (LICHRD)” have begun pressuring the government for full implementation of the Draft Human Rights Policy submitted to the Ministry of Justice.

The awareness is supported by International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) based in Geneva.

Besides the Bill of Rights, LICHRD also formulated the Draft Human Rights Policy which aimed at protecting activists and human rights defenders across the country.

The Human Rights Defenders policy awareness workshop seeks to build the capacity of members to go into the communities and spread the message on creating a platform that protects those guiding the rights of the public.

LICHRD and its member organizations over the weekend began a robust awareness on the National Human Rights Defenders Policy in Monrovia.

During the awareness training, they called on three branches of the Liberian government to take the necessary action that will legitimize the policy so the rights of all citizens, especially human rights defenders can advocate for the rights of the society and defend human right without fear for their lives.

Giving the importance of the awareness regarding the policy in an interview with Journalists, the Chairperson for LICHRD, Neidoteh Torbor, stated that defending the rights of human beings in country in the midst of growing threats and insecurities requires government’s involvement.

The activist maintained that the time is now to have such an instrument legislated because the Liberian leader, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has signed the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court that will see many activists pushing the advocacy of victims against some war and economic criminals that have some political or financial influences that pose threats to the defenders.

He noted that in order to achieve its missions signed at international conventions and treaties.

The activists are vulnerable without this policy and defending human rights is even risking stakeholders more.

With the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court signed by the president, we need this policy to protect us in defending the rights of those victimized and seeking justice,” he said.

Mr. Torbor said the 1986, Constitution of Liberia Article (3) has a focus point on fundamental human rights but did not go into specifying the scope for which the national human rights defenders’ policies have been drafted to support the working enshrined in the constitution.

According to him, the protection of those rights in these areas matter because they are the ones that go into direct contact with perpetrators fighting for the interest of victims.

He adds that in some cases, the defenders become target and at times fall prey to human right violators.

He noted that it is time that the government stands by its words after attaching signatories to international conventions and treaties by making the policy a law so that perpetrators will not use the many influences that exist in silencing the defenders of human rights in Liberia.

“The drafted national human rights defenders’ policy is currently in the office of the Minister of Justice. For the sake of effective and efficient defense of the right of citizens, the government has to use the instruments in that policy as tools in protecting journalists, lawyers and many other activists who have cases to pursue as a means of defending others right,” Mr. Tobor concluded.

Duwana Kingsley, the Acting Executive Director of the Coalition, said in order to defend human rights, the communities play a major role, at such, the awareness activities will reach out to different communities, capturing the attention of the public.

Kingsley Noted that the member organizations of LICHRD are looking at the importance of drafted policy will also move to other parts of Liberia with the awareness because the matter of human rights affects every citizen across the different counties.

The group lauded their foreign-based partner, ISHR, for supporting the cause to defend the peoples rights, intimating that the responsibility of implementing the drafted policy is now on government.

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