The United Nations Human Rights has started a two-day stakeholder engagement and consultation on the elaboration of a National Human Defenders Policy.
Marking a remark on behalf of the human rights communities, the lead facilitator Adama Dempster encouraged his fellow facilitators and the participants attending the two-day event to continue fighting to make sure the issue of human rights in Liberia is at a higher pace.
Mr. Dempster called on all stakeholders in Liberia and other international partners including representatives from the religious community for their fullest support in addressing human rights issues in Liberia.
Speaking on behalf of the united nation human rights, Dr. Sonny Onyegbula Deputy Country Representative of OHCHR, said such a workshop is not just ordinary but a consultative one.
According to Dr. Onyegbula, when the human rights office was established in Liberia in April 2018, one of the first things they thought about was how they could protect or facilitate the process that will lead to legal protection of those who work every day in the interest of other people, that is the human rights defenders.
He noted that in early June of 2019, they received support from the United Nations Embassy to carry on an assessment to look into whether there was any form of protection available for human rights defenders within the country, but found out none of these policies existed. He noted that the research lasted for six months.
Dr. Onyegbula added that they identified that there are three keys sets of human rights defenders that are mostly at ricks; to include, those who are working on SGBV, people who are working to protect the rights of those who are victims of harmful traditional practices, and also people who are working on the issue of accountability, are seriously at ricks. “As I said in the previous discussion, accountability is not just for the victim it is also for the accused.’’
He furthered that the fourth group is those working on the issue of corruption because corruption is a human rights issue whether you like it or not he noted.
Also speaking was the Director of Complaint, Hearing, investigation, monitoring, and report from INCHR Peter Forkpayea Zogolee Zaizay.
According to Mr. Zogolee Zaizay, the INHCR is a state-own organization and the state is responsible to protect and promote human rights, adding that they are to perpetuate said responsibility.
He said anybody outside of the judiciary, executive, and legislature works in the Civil Society sector.
Mr. Zaizay added that there was a conference held in Morocco that stress the need for a human rights commission to be established in Liberia in order to address the many human rights issues while calling on the group to work with the INCHR.
Also in attendance was the Pan-African Human Rights defender Network representatives Flora Stewens, advocacy officer, she lauded the organizer and pledged her institution’s commitment to working to promote the human rights communities in Liberia.
She said thou her group is based in Uganda, what they do is to enhance the capacity building of human rights defenders to mitigate some of the risks they are faced with.
Miss Stewen said as a Pan-African human rights Network, they work across the continent with organizations and establish networks with other organizations in resolving some of the violations that are on the ground.
The two days forum was well represented by many Human Rights Organizations, government institutions, CSO’s, Religious and Community Leaders including the Ministry of Justice.
Reported by: Godfred Badu Quansah
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