The Inquirer (Monrovia)

21 February 2013

Liberia: SFCG Launches Human Rights Project in Lofa, Bong

In an effort to uphold the protection of human rights throughout the country, Search For Common Ground in collaboration with Rights and Rice has officially launched a major project in Liberia. The project was launched recently in Lofa and Bong with the aim of encouraging the appropriate authorities to protect and promote human rights in the country. According to Oscar Bloh, Country Director of Search for Common Ground, the project is being launched in Lofa and Bong Counties, two of Liberia's most populated counties.

Mr. Bloh disclosed that during the country's 14 years of civil unrest, human rights were often being violated and there was no access to justice. He said now that the war has ended with a democratically elected government, the protection of human rights and access to justice are key factors in promoting good governance in the country.

Mr. Bloh said his organization is working in partnership with the Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia (INHRCL), the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL), the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice and the European Union (EU) in implementing the project which targets about 80,000 citizens in Lofa and Bong Counties.

He said SFCG/R&RF will work with county authorities, the Ministry of Justice, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and the Liberia National Police (LNP) to engage the society and stakeholders on explaining the rule of law in the targeted counties as part of the implementation process.

Giving an overview of the project, Mr. James Yarsiah, Executive Director of Rights and Rice Foundation said the protection of human rights is cardinal to the national transformation in Liberia. Mr. Yarsiah averred that the issue of human rights must be a critical issue in the Rising Liberia Vision 2030.

He added that they are working with INHRCL, MOJ, Public Defenders and County Attorneys across the country in the implementation of the project. Mr. Yarsiah further stressed that some of the activities under the project include the training of local rights activists, providing skills for selected Civil Society organizations by training their members and that the citizens will be empowered with knowledge of Human Rights.

At the same time, the Executive Secretary of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Daniel H. Allison said over the past fifteen years Liberia has become violator of human rights despite the election of a democratically elected government.

Mr. Allison said the violation of human rights is on the rise in the country which is a major challenge to the government. He called on the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf led administration to exert every effort to stop human rights violation in the country, adding that human rights violation is presently ongoing throughout the country.

Among other things, Allison said the launch of the project: Reviewing the Social Contract-Strengthening the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Liberia must be a wakeup call to the Independent National Human Rights Commission to get on its feet in curbing the many rights violated in the country.

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