_ RWHR Lunching Pictures_Regional Watch for Human Rights, formerly Liberia Watch for Human Rights.__has been Launched on 18,September 2009. Representative of Reverend Marie Jilo Barnett the Sierra Leone ambassador. In his delivery, Mr.Kaikai thanked the organizers of the launching program for their thoughtfulness and great concern for the wellbeing and rights of the citizens of the sub-region. He also applauded the efforts and bold initiative as well as the steady and sure steps taken so far by Liberia Watch for Human Rights, now Regional Watch to promote and protect the rights of the peoples of Liberia in particular and the sub-region as a whole.
He underscored that a strong, vibrant and responsible human rights institution is predicated on that institution’s independence and objectives, with no inclination to compromise and partisanship. Where such institutions exist as watch, the rights of citizens will certainly be protected and their well-being guaranteed, he concluded. Other representatives invited from the American, Nigerian, Guinean, and Senegalese foreign missions, were present.
Moreover, the former Executive Director Thompson Ade-Bayor, now Regional Director represented LWHR at a 3 day Human Rights and Conflict Management training organized by the Center for Conflict Resolution in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 23 to 25, 2009 coincidentally is also in connection with RWHR mandate (Conflict Trend and Human Rights Monitoring). RWHR now have contacts offices in the following countries: Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria Freetown the Republic of Sierra Leone, Conakry the Republic of Guinea, Darker Senegal and Ivory Coast.
The Liberia judiciary system has made some improvements by way of renovation of courthouses and detention facilities, construction of separate blocks for female and juvenile detainees, revival of the Case File Management Committee, establishment of the Judicial Training Institute, and slight increases in the numbers of public prosecutions. But there is still, persistent deficiencies within the judiciary sector weaknesses were attributable to insufficient judicial personnel, including prosecutors and public defenders, limited court infrastructure and logistics, archaic rules of procedure, and poor case management. Unprofessional, corrupt, and, in a few cases, criminal practices by judicial staff continued to lead to rights abuses and undermine progress. Widespread abuses of the right to due process undermine efforts to address impunity, have prompted calls for more leadership initiatives within the Justice Ministry including calls for international support to strengthen the sector. Prisons and detention centers remain overcrowded and lack basic sanitation and healthcare for detainees. In 2008 hundreds of people were held in prolonged pretrial detention; only ten percent of the some 1,000 individuals detained in Liberia's prisons had been convicted of a crime.
LWHR, has expressed regret and disappointment about the lackadaisical posture the Ministry of Justice has taken regarding the gruesome murder of a law student, Stafford Tamba at the University of Liberia. Stafford Tamba was murdered on August 16, 2008 by some marauding armed men at his Gardnersville residence while studying for his Commercial Law final examination scheduled on that fateful day. While, describing the death of Tamba as untimely, LWHR asserted “It is totally unbelievable and unacceptable for such heinous crime to have occurred in a civilized society. We, consider this case as a very serious breach of the social contact between the governors and the governed, meaning the government and the people as enshrined in 1986 Constitution of Liberia under Chapter 111, Article 11(a) The chapter states that “all persons are born equally free and independent and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which, are the right of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of perusing and maintaining the security of the person and acquiring, possessing and protecting property”.
LWHR is shocked to learn that not a single suspect has been arrested since Tamba, was horribly murdered one year ago. We consider such lay-back posture by the Ministry of Justice as a replica of the immediate past where defenseless citizens were murdered in cold blood and the doers of the heartless act went scot-free. The justice ministry must eschew such unfair act because it has the propensity to undermine the country’s nascent democracy. Nevertheless, LWHR cautiously called on the Justice Ministry and other relevant government security agencies to promptly search for and arrest, and subsequently bring to justice all those involved in the murder of the late law student
A unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder on February 5, 2009 brought down in favor of the Junior Senator of Margibi County, Roland C. Kaine, and six other defendants in June 7, 2008 Timor massacre at least 21 persons in Grand Bassa County.Of the 16 defendants charged with the crime of murder by the state, eight were convicted, while A. Y Kollie, one of the principal accused, would be retried. Those acquitted were: • Ernest Kpannah, • Boakai Momo, • Gibson Kpannah, • James Boakai, • Singbah Duu (deceased), • Joseph Kollie and • Roland C. Kaine.
Those convicted were: Kpannah Quoi, Oldman Juu, Moses Kollie, Kolleh Russ, James Varney, Moses Winnie, Sumo Mulbah and Rufu Mulbah
The prolonged trial of 12 accused (defendants) in connection with the untimely death of Liberian Agricultural Company (LAC) plantation Manager Bruno Michels has finally been transferred to the First Judicial Circuit Court in Montserado County. The murder case was transferred from the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa County following a two-count motion filed by the state for change of venue. The 12 defendants were charged with murder for allegedly killing the plantation manager on November 7, 2007 at Compound #3. The state’s motion for the change of venue of the case spelled out that there had been extra prejudice condemnation in the county where the case emanated and should have been heard. The defense counsel filed a two-count motion requesting the court to deny the motion of the state on grounds that the legal and political started by the prosecution were not distinctly defined to warrant the court to grant the motion. Meanwhile, the court presided over by Resident Judge Cllr. Benedict W. Holt, Sr. has order the Clerk of Court, Mr. Henry W. Garsagne, to transmit all documents pertaining to the case to the new of the case and attach the security bond to the office of the Sheriff in Montserrado County. The according to the court would enable the defendants, who are in custody, to be provided in the court for May Term of court. The defendants include Arthur Crusore, Isaac Zahnto, Gbotoe Richard Darbiea, Luthur Glaydor, Moses Saywon, Rufus Queeto, Mathew Cooper, Samule Garpue, Madison Tarr and Jone Charile. The state is represented by former County Attorney K. Kelvin Zoegan and the defendants by Atty. Paul Jarvan.
The assigned Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Gbarnga, Bong County, Sakijipo Worlor on March 10, 2009, sentenced a 33-year-old man identified as Roland Kwenah, alias, “Kaliku,” imprisonment for 65 year after he was adjudged guilty of committing murder. Roland a former general of the disbanded Anti, Terrorist Unit (ATU) was pronounced guilty for murdering a 19-year Momo Zayzay, a motorcyclist on the Palala-Gant highway at about 1: 00PM on June 6, 2008
The Command-In-Chief of the armed forces of Liberia, and President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called on the young women of Liberia to join new Liberia army in order to get the needed 20% women needed in A. F. L. At the start of the restructuring and recruiting process of the Armed forces of Liberia, President Sirleaf called for 20% of women in the new Liberia Army forces or national Army.
President noted that the present percentage of women in the over 2000 AFL Soldiers are below the 20% needed in the Liberia Army Forces and stressed that the needed 20% will provide equal roles in all aspects of the country’s security endeavor.
But since the Liberia leader made the call, the needed number of women in the AFL is yet to come to fulfillment and LWHR believes her call poses a big challenge to the Minister of National Defense and his principal deputies. Given the current percentage of women on the AFL which stands at 8% of the Commander –In- Chief of the Liberian Army noted that encouraging more women to form part of the AFL will help in the country’s rebuilding and women’s rights process.
The Liberia National Police are still widely considered ineffective and corrupt. Both ordinary citizens and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf have blamed a recent spate of armed robberies on their poor performance. They have been recruited, vetted and trained to a far lower standard than the army. Training of the paramilitary ERU may address some problems, but others have more to do with basic issues of poor management, lack of equipment and dismal community relations. There also appears to be inadequate realization that successful police reform can only be sustained if it is linked to an effective judiciary that enforces the rule of law fairly and effectively to protect individual rights and assure citizen security. This has led to the growth of vigilantism and disrespect of police in Monrovia and elsewhere. The police desperately need a combination of managerial expertise, strategic vision and (only then) a major increase in budget. The challenge facing the government and donors is the transition from external partner to sovereign state responsibilities. To this point, the Johnson-Sirleaf government has been largely happy to leave the reform of its army and police to others, occupied as it is with economic recovery. Domestic ownership of the reforms has become urgent, but it must not entail the overly hasty exit of international partners. Unless in particular U.S. and UN efforts to make Liberia more secure and stable are sustained over the next few years, the investment made since the end of the war could easily unravel
While Government and International partners are striving toward putting the broken pieces together to bring Liberia to better standard after years of turmoil, the Educational Sector remains one cardinal point of focus with a challenge of looking out for qualified teachers. During and after the civil war, many trained teachers left the teaching field owning to poor salary and old age among others. As a result, both government-owned and private schools that sprang up in the war years have limited qualified teachers to develop the minds of the youth. Though Government has rehabilitated some teacher training institute, including Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute and Zorzor Teacher Training Institute with other sub-private training institutes coming up, many school do not now have trained teachers but rather get high school graduates and others who have specialized in certain fields od study to teach without the requisite teacher training course. On the basis of this predicament, many schools have begun sponsoring interest candidates to recognized teacher training institute while some are conducting training workshops for their teachers to acquire some basis knowledge in teaching.
The 2009 West African Examinations Council (WAEC) results have been released. According to authorities at WAEC, the over all performance of the candidates for the examination was poor as compared to last year’s result. Out of the 20,670 that sat the examination at 105 centers in the country, only 11,631 made successful passes, while a total of 6,779 failed.
With many Liberian families living in extreme poverty, due to unemployment and the prolonged civil crises, the children face serious threats of food security. Even when the government has barred street selling by kids within the country, children are still serving as major bread winners for their families. Also most children who refuse to sell or lose money while selling, are brutalized. For the fear of this treatment, some choose to remain in the streets unit they can raise the lost money, mainly through street begging. The children who are brought by relatives from the rural areas to the cities for school are sometimes used as breadwinners, their relatives; the females especially are often susceptible to physical or sexual abuse and rape, at times by the consent of the guardians or relatives.