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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