Saturday, February 13, 2010

“Free the people, if…”

-JPC warns govt.

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) has warned that the government of Liberia stands the chance of setting free dozens of potential rapist and other alleged criminals due to their (government) inability to provide sufficient evidence for prosecution.
JPC’s National Director, Cllr. J. Augustine Toe said if the government seeks to life in conformity with the constitution of the Republic of Liberia it must ensure that those arrested and in detention at the Monrovia Central Prison and prison facilities are speedily prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Article 21 (f) of the Liberian Constitution states, “Every person arrested or detained shall be formally charged and prosecuted before a court of competent jurisdiction within forty-eight hours. Should the court determine the existence of a prima facie case against the accused, it shall issue a formal writ of arrest setting out the charge or charges and shall provide for a speedy trial.”
“I was recently in a meeting at Justice Ministry and the Chief Prosecutor of the special unit set up by the government of Liberia to speedily prosecute sexual and gender based violence cases in country, the SGBV Crimes Unit, confirmed that there are currently over 90 rape cases at the Monrovia Central Prison that the government is finding very difficult in getting sufficient evident to prosecute; this I say is human rights violation. The JPC has no interest in seeing potential rapists being set free, but if you do not have evident to prosecute the people than set them free because that’s what the law says,” Cllr. Augustine Toe said.
He made the statement on Friday, February 12, 2010 at the Ministry of Gender and Development during the celebration of the first anniversary of the Journalists Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (JASAGBV).
Cllr. Toe told partners in the fight against sexual and gender based violence in Liberia to go beyond mere workshops where according to him ‘people will only come to get the setting fees that will be provided and leave without understanding the dynamics of sgbv in their communities and homes’ but rather fine means of sustaining program that will help provide the needed education and training for families especially young people to understand the issue of sgbv in the country.
Also speaking, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Rule of Law, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu said the establishment of the media group to join the fight against sgbv indicates that the wine of change is blowing over the Liberian media.
“I am convinced that the simple but profound theme-Together We Will Report Gender Based Violence- is a powerful indicator of your commitment to eradicate our societies of the kind of behavior that dehumanizes the women and children in our homes, in our families and in our communities,” the UNMIL Deputy boss said.
Madam Mensa-Bonsu recounted that in January & February of 2008 out of the over 200 rape cases that were reported for those months, 17 cases involved infants (babies) from 5 years and below.
She said rape and other forms of SGBV are still most frequently committed serious crimes in the country and the tendency to quietly settle these cases out of court offers sanctuary to perpetrators and inhibits the willingness of victims to seek redress which is factors that best promote the continued commission of SGBV in the country.
The UNMIL Deputy boss said a recent report on rape sponsored by the UN Response to Rape Group (December 2009) underscored that there is serious distinct divide between the urban and rural communities in reporting rape cases.
The report indicated that during the period under review, 68% of rape cases were reported in the urban areas while 34% were reported in rural areas, which indicate the need for more awareness in the rural parts of the country.
Serving as guest speaker, the Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), T. Nelson Williams challenged the media to go beyond reporting the issue of SGBV in the country.
For his part, JASAGBV’s President, Lawrence Fahnbulleh stressed the need for support to the media group to enable it take the SGBV awareness to every parts of the country.
The Journalists Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (JASAGBV ) formally the Anti-Rape Reporters Association of Liberia (ARRAL) was established on February 12 2009, by the Government of Liberia in collaboration with the United Nations Mission Liberia (UNMIL) to join the fight against gender based violence, especially rape that continue to be on an alarming rate in the country.

Wetlands conservation involves everyone

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the conservation of wetlands in Liberia should not only remain squarely in the hands of the EPA, Ministry of Lands Minds and Energy and the Monrovia City Council (MCC) but should rather involve every well meaning Liberian.

EPA Executive Director, Dr. Alfred Armah said the benefits of conserving wetlands needs to be underscored as a priority and well understood by all government ministries, agencies and community members.

Speaking at programs marking the celebration World Wetlands Day (WWD), under the theme: “Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change,” on the Samuel K. Doe Boulevard, Dr. Armah encouraged every Liberian to avoid the misuse of wetlands in their various communities.

He said the RAMSAR Protocol adopted 1974 in Uren, and the first celebration in 1997 is intended to raise awareness around the world about the importance of wetland conservation.

For her part, the WWD Focal Point, Cecelia Kollie said wetlands serves as key ecosystems for biodiversity conservation of various endangered, rare and native species and ease global warming impacts by absorbing carbon-dioxide from the air.

Madam Kollie said mangroves within the wetlands remove and store green house gases from the earth’s atmosphere slowing the onset of global warming and helps to reduce floor impacts and act like giant sponges slowing the fow of surface water thus reducing the impact of flooding.

Stay in your bobble

-don’t deceive our people
An executive of the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) has warned members of the ruling Unity Party (UP) of Africa’s first democratically elected female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to stop deceiving the international community that all is what he ‘rosary’ as hardship has engulfed the entire country.

“I don’t care how distance the Unity Party government wants to be from the truth, our people are catching hard time; if you want people to sing songs of praises, go to your party headquarters let your partisans do that, but do not deceive our people,” Mr. Lewis Brown said.

Speaking at debate organized by the Students Unification Party (SUP) of the University of Liberia under the theme: “A Critical Look at the Unity Party Led Government after Four Years down the Read, Where are we”? said it is not enough for the government to boast of the number of school buildings that been or are being constructed across the country, but the standards and quality of education that are being offered in those buildings is what matters.

“Save the buildings and teach me under the trees or kitchen but up to standard that I can compute with other students in the region and other parts of the world and represent my-self, my family and the country,” the NPP executive noted.

He said the World Bank recent report rated Liberia very poorly in human resource capacity building or development, adding, that 50% of teachers in Liberia are untrained and if the educational sector must be revamped to allow Liberian students to compute with other students in the region and other parts of the world, the government should place more priority on the educational sector in its budget.

Mr. Brown said the Unity Party led government should rather applaud the oppositions for the level of constructive engagement or criticisms on issues of national concerns being experienced in the country, unlike in the past that oppositions including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others choose to oppose or disagree with issues by supporting and raging war on the country.

He however commanded the government for the level of enrolment in the primary schools between girls and boys of school going ages.

Defending the other side of the coin, Maryland County Senator, John Ballout said the UP administration inherited what he called ‘a fail state’ that was of no significance and has transformed it into a beacon of hope for the continent of Africa and the world at large.
“Shame on those opposition politicians who have got nothing to offer but to take up the microphones and air waves to confuse the ordinary people by deception and lies,” Senator Ballout said.

He said the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government has provided the platform and the space for oppositions and others to freely express themselves which was never experienced under past administrations.

Monitor reporter wins human rights reporting award

A reporter of the Equal Chance Communication Limited, publisher of The Monitor Newspaper has been named amongst winners of just ended human rights reporting competition of the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR).
Sam Zota, Junior was on Thursday, February 11, 2010 presented a certificate and a Panasonic mini-cassette recorder in the honorable mention category for his excellent investigation and publications on the condition under which ice were been produced for consumption in the densely populated commercial district of Paynesville by the First United Business Incorporated (FUBI), also known as “Johnson Compound”.
Back in April 2009, seeking to get better understanding of the condition under which ice were been produced in Liberia particularly FUBI, Zota launched thorough investigation at which time it was discovered that ice produced at the FUBI were produced in filths and other unsafe conditions.
The investigation was carried out and the necessary follow ups made to the appropriate authorities concern and the necessary actions taken that brought the needed change to the company and the consuming populace.
Sam Zota is the environment and human rights reporter of the Monitor Newspaper and editor of an environmental blog, (
Journalist for Human Rights (jhr) is a Canadian media training organization partnered with the Liberia Media Center in Liberia for five years.
JHR also based in the Sierra Leone and the Congo, had media trainers placed at print, radio and TV media houses throughout Liberia in 2009, to encourage journalists to produce human-rights based feature stories covering the diverse, critical issues confronting their post-war country.
The 2009 Human Rights Reporting Awards competition was inclusive of all media houses and journalists throughout Liberia, and was intended to bring out best of human rights reporting produced by journalists and over 75 journalists participated in the competition.
The ceremony held at the Liberia Media Center (LMC) was graced by the United Kingdom Political Officer, Gillian Dare, the Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, Philip wesseh, LMC’s Lawrence Randall, an array of Journalists for Human Rights trainers including the Country Director, K. Abdullai Kamara among others