Human Rights Community Reminds Gov’t To Protect Fundamental Rights

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Civil society institutions working on human rights, democracy, the rule of law, peace and security have expressed deep concern about the recent human rights abuse and violations in Liberia, allegedly perpetrated by a para-military group, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-Council of Patriots (COP). “This action is posing a greater security threat amongst citizens, pro-democracy groups and human rights defenders. In this connection we would like to remind the government of Liberia as a state party to regional and international human rights instruments to ensure the full protection of all fundamental rights of people living in Liberia,” the civil society institutions stated in a joint press statement.

   In the statement issued over the weekend, the human rights defenders said, “The attack on the personal integrity, security and dignity of the protesters on July 26, 2022 in Monrovia is worrisome and undermines the security of the state. We remind the government about its obligation under Chapter 3, Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution, which provides that all persons at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances… Also, Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized, no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right…

   “Furthermore, Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights states that, every individual have the right to assemble freely with others… All democracies strive to respect and protect the human rights of citizens. Human rights mean those values that reflect respect for human life and human dignity.”

   According to the groups, “Democracy emphasizes the value of every human being. Examples of human rights include freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, the right to equality and the right to education.”

   The CSOs and human rights community demanded that urgent action be taken to arrest, investigate and prosecute the “illegal” group to avoid anything that could undermine the peace and security of the state, especially going towards the 2023 general and presidential elections.

   “Additionally, the posture and behavior of these self-styled militant groups, sponsored by political parties and politicians, threaten national security, undermines the rule of law and gains made to sustain the democratic gains made so far. The CSOs and the human rights community also observed the attitudes of some national security officers, especially the Liberia National Police (LNP), while these human rights violations continue in the country,” the statement continued.

   Meanwhile, the human rights defenders have called on the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the leadership of President George M. Weah, to protect all residents of Liberia, ensure respect for the rule of law and speak against the lawlessness and unexplained killings/deaths ongoing in the country over the past years. The defenders expressed disappointment in the Ministry of Justice and the security sector for the unprofessional manners in dealing with lawlessness in the society, and called for urgent action to enhance national security for all.

   The human rights defenders also called on the international partners and diplomatic missions in Liberia to ensure that government adheres to international and national standards to human rights protection, peace and security, as these are fundamental rights that need to be protected and guaranteed for all Liberians, irrespective of political affiliations, wealth, gender and colors.

   “This action moving into the elections will increase fear for citizens, especially women who are interested in contesting for political offices, as there is fear in the country for the level of unexplained killings/deaths and violence in the society,” the groups underscored. “The act of mob violence is unacceptable; we therefore call on regional and international community, along with civil society and concerned citizens to engage and follow up with the Government of Liberia (GOL) to act in the interest of peace and justice for all.”

The joint statement issued by civil society institutions working on human rights, democracy, the rule of law, peace and security was signed by the contact person, Adama K. Dempster, Secretary General, Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, and approved by ten civil society organizations: Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, We Are Protected Campaign, Liberian Women Humanitarian Network, Women Human Rights Defenders Network of Liberia, The Peace and Security Network of Women in West Africa, West Africa Network for Peace-Liberia, Naymote Partners for Democratic Development, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia, Independent Human Rights Investigators and Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia.

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