Thursday, November 4, 2010

In Geneva, 113 Recommendations For Liberia’s Human Rights Report

- Nat Nyuan Bayjay

Liberia delegation Justice Minister Christiana Tah and Labor Minister Tiawon Gongloe. The Working Group adopts an outcome document for each State which is then presented to the next regular session of the Human Rights Council. The outcome document includes recommendations which have been made by individual States and which the State under review may accept or not.

Source: FrontPage Africa

Geneva, Switzerland-

Following Monday’s review of Liberia’s human rights activities through the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Working Group on Liberia Wednesday advanced 113 recommendations to the Christiana Tah-led delegation. The Liberian delegation wasted no time in announcing a none-rejection of all the recommendations by accepting 71 and deferring 42 for further consultations.

The recommendations submitted to the Liberian delegation emerged from several concerns and recommendations made by 40 permanent representatives of the United Nations member states during Monday’s opening session of the ongoing 9th Session of the UPR which began with a review of Liberia’s human rights activities.

Preceeding Wednesday’s adoption of the report was Monday’s event that was characterized by Liberia’s poor judiciary system’s inability to address the increasing number of pre-trial detention cases, ‘cruel’ traditional practice of FGM and its death penalty which dominated the review of the nation that came out of 14 years of civil war seven years ago.

Among them were calls for the abolition of the death penalty, criminalizing the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), strengthening the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC), addressing the issues affecting the lack of public trust in the Judiciary and the law enforcement system, addressing the issues of pre-trial detentions, giving human rights groups full access to detention facilities, continuing combating violence against women, and to improve prison facilities.

Attorney-General and Justice Minister Tah, in response, told the world body that Liberia objects to none of the recommendations and accepted 71 of them. She added that Liberia needs to consult with relevant agencies and the Liberian people back home on 42 of them, necessitating their deferment.

Speaking to the Liberian media in the Swiss city immediately after the report was adopted, Tah disclosed that the reason for deferring 42 of the recommendations is simply because they are crucial issues which the delegation could not take an immediate decision on behalf of the government and Liberians.

Applauding her delegation, she said, “We accepted 71 which I think is very, very good on the part of Liberia and deferred 42.”

Furthering explaining reason for the delegate’s deferment, Tah said, “The reason we deferred 42 is because, like the death penalty and FGM, these are issues which we cannot accept on behalf of the government and the Liberian people. We believe in inclusiveness. This is something that requires consultations. We have to get back to our people, our government and civil society and tell them that these are issues that the world is concerned about. We need to sit down and consider what needs to be done.”

The Working Group adopts an outcome document for each State which is then presented to the next regular session of the Human Rights Council. The outcome document includes recommendations which have been made by individual States and which the State under review may accept or not.

The review itself takes place in Geneva in the Working Group on the UPR, composed of the 47 Member States of the Human Rights Council of the UN and meets for three two-week sessions each year.

At each UPR working group meeting, 16 States are reviewed which review takes the form of an interactive three-hour dialogue held between the State under review and the Member and Observer States of the HRC.

The Working Group is assisted by groups of three States referred to as “Troika”, selected by the drawing of lots among members of the Council which lead the review of each State.

Liberia’s Troika group comprised of the Republic of Korea, Spain and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

Liberia became the 128th country to undergo the UPR and it opened the 9th Session of the review which highlights reviews of the human rights records of all 192 UN member states once every four years as held under the auspices of the UN’s Human Rights Council’s.

Preceeding Wednesday’s adoption of the report was Monday’s event that was characterized by Liberia’s poor judiciary system’s inability to address the increasing number of pre-trial detention cases, ‘cruel’ traditional practice of FGM and its death penalty which dominated the review of the nation that came out of 14 years of civil war seven years ago.

Pre-trial detention is one of several major challenges facing the war-torn nation’s judiciary system which continues to result into several individuals languishing behind prison bars while continued practice of what many consider to be a harmful tradition of the FGM and the Liberian government’s 2005 adopted death penalty continue to receive international condemnation.

A historically-secret, centuries old traditional society has about half of the country’s female population initiated into the women’s secret association known as the Sande Society. Thousands of young girls take a vow of secrecy after weeks of training in the forest, promising not to not tell uninitiated girls or men what happens to them, to assume new names, and to have their clitorises cut off, according to women in the secret society, which health workers say are harmful.

Liberia’s adopted death penalty was addressed with huge condemnation by most of the representatives who recommended to the Unity Party government to repeal the law.

A July 2008 law allows for the death penalty for murder committed during armed robbery, terrorism, or hijacking which is in sharp contravention of Liberia's obligations under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it acceded in 2005.

According to the Working Group, Wednesday’s conclusions and recommendations reflect the position of the submitting states and Liberia and are not to be construed as endorsed by the Working Group as the final report.

Nat Bayjay is one of three Liberian journalists who was qualified to attend the ongoing Human Rights Universal Periodic Review, organized by Media21 in Geneva, Switzerland. Festus Poquie of the New Democrat Newspaper and Torwon Sulonteh-Brown of UNMIL Radio are the other two Liberian journalists.

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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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