14 February 2013

Liberia: Internal Affairs Wants Chiefs Educated On Hub

Liberia has again made history by the erection of a peace and security hub which is focused on strengthening its justice system regionally but Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson has cautioned actors to educate the chiefs if the hubs are to be meaningful across the country.

"In our roadmap for peace, national healing and reconciliation, we are aware that if we do not engage in peace building initiatives, the hubs will be overwhelmed; if we do not undertake programs and projects for healing the nation, this hub will not work; if we do not take steps and reconcile ourselves the dockets on the courts will be overcrowded," Minister Nelson said.

He said in every village there is a local authority therefore the Internal Affairs has to embark on a program to educate the chiefs and since the citizens are educated now on what to do to pursue issues, but what about the chiefs; what roles are they to play if the hubs are to work?

Minister Nelson said there may have been many things that led to the civil unrest in the country and many persons have tried to find the root cause(s) but following research and reasoning, it has become acceptable that the root cause of Liberia's problem has been exclusion and marginalization of citizens from decision making and social service delivery; governance variables that have been so centralized.

He said centralized government cannot be effective and on the way to decentralizing government, it will not take a year or two even though Liberia has enjoyed peace for the past seven years adding that Liberia's peace is still fragile and to sustain the peace so far, there must be access to justice.

He said the hubs stand as symbol to ensuring that citizens have access to justice and that must be felt in every village, chiefdom, city, district and clan, by the mechanism of justice which will be a walking distance and that cannot be achieved in one day thereby calling on the residents to take care of the structure and program.

Justice Minister Christiana Tah said the intent of the hub is to serve the people, an aspect of governance that had been ignored and marginalized for so long in the country.

The Attorney General said the hub is a representation of decentralization of Liberia's security structure and system and that the Gbarnga, Bong County hub would cater to residents in Lofa, Nimba as well as the host counties.

Additional four hubs will be constructed in other parts of the country with Harper, Maryland County the next city for a dedication of another hub and by that the Judiciary will be providing greater access to service and greater interaction with citizens.

Minister Tah said the hubs will improve perceptions of security and delivery of services and that it will work to create linkages among security institutions as well as align with Liberia's vision for 2030 noting that the establishment of hubs across the region has called for the need to provide more prosecutors to improve speedy trials in the courts at all levels.

While the United Nations Deputy Special Representative for Peace-building Judy Cheng-Hopkins said the hub is a pilot not only for the world but for the world therefore all Liberians have responsibility to maintain.

Madam Hopkins said hub advances peace and security and serves as a core institution that a nation can build justice upon therefore the United Nations Mission in Liberia sees the establishment as a transition strategy.

The hub is supported by a recurrent budget from the Liberian government and managerial support from the UN which will leave Liberians with ownership competence to manage the program after six months. The hub includes the personnel of the Bureau of Immigration, Liberia National Police, Fire Service as well as lawyers, judges and prosecutors.

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