Wednesday, May 19, 2010

President Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf Should Act on Rights Commission

Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC)

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should Act on Rights Commission - Delays are Impeding Efforts to Promote and Protect Human Rights


19 May 2010

Press release

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia should demonstrate leadership in accelerating the establishment of the country’s Independent National Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a joint letter to the president today.

The 2003 Accra Peace Agreement, which brought Liberia’s years of armed conflict to an end, called upon the Liberian government to create an Independent National Human Rights Commission, and in 2005, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights Act was passed into law. Five years later, the government and parliament still have not established a human rights commission in Liberia.

“The government’s failure to establish the Human Rights Commission has stymied progress in protecting human rights in Liberia,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “An effective Human Rights Commission would help foster a culture of human rights in a country scarred by war, violence, and impunity.”

The Liberian government’s failure to establish the commission undermines Liberia’s postwar recovery, respect for human rights, and its anti-corruption agenda, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said. While plans to establish the commission remain in limbo, the country has experienced ongoing violence and internecine conflict, striking deficiencies in judiciary, police, and corrections operations, vigilante justice, and high incidence of rape of women and girls. It is just such problems that the commission would be designed to address.

Establishment of the Human Rights Commission has met repeated roadblocks over the past five years. Most recently, in February 2010, the Liberian Senate rejected all proposed commissioners without offering any public explanation – and rejected them a second time in March, after the names were resubmitted in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the process. A new, reconstituted vetting committee, headed by the former head of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Pearl Brown-Bull, was set up in April to select new candidates.

“The President needs to demonstrate leadership in pushing for the prompt establishment of a functioning independent and effective national human rights commission,” said Etelle Higonnet, West Africa researcher at Amnesty International. “It should be one of her top priorities.”

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called on the Liberian government to help ensure the success of the new committee by making public the official budget and time frame for vetting commissioners, involving civil society in the process, and ensuring that the committee’s work will be fully transparent. The groups further urged the Liberian Senate to consider the confirmation of nominated commissioners individually and not as a group.

“We are concerned that the selection process for commissioners is not adequately transparent with respect to process, time-frames, budgets, guidelines, or civil society consultation,” Higonnet said.

Under the Independent National Commission for Human Rights Act, the commission is mandated to monitor and report on human rights violations in Liberia, as well as to review and, where appropriate, act on the recommendations of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, released in December 2009. Some of the recommendations, including the establishment of a hybrid international-national tribunal to prosecute individuals for serious crimes committed during the armed conflict, and the barring from public office of former supporters of the warring factions, have sparked considerable controversy.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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