Mr. Johnson: "Best practice requires equal access to justice."
A two-day seminar for rural women to promote access to justice in the country and curtail violence against them ended in Cestos City, River Cess County, on Saturday, February 8, with a call for participants to spread the message.
The event, which was organized by the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) in partnership with UN Women, brought together many women in the county and its surroundings.
It was held on February 7 and 8, 2019. Bob Johnson, IREDD's Rule of Law project manager, appreciated the participants for acquiring more understanding on the principle of justice under the rule of law, barriers that hinder women's rights and access to justice in the country.
Participants pose for a photo after the end of the seminar in Cestos City, Rivercess.
Johnson called on women to know their basic rights, transparency, and accountability in accessing justice and security institutions as well as inheritance rights with respect to marriage and custody of child/children respectively.
He said educating women on these rights would set the basis for fair and unbiased administration void of personal interests or attachment.
"Men are taking too much advantage of women. This must stop, because everybody is equal under the law. This is why we are providing these legal guardians and teaching others about rights and ways to access justice," Mr. Johnson said.
He said for too long, many of the rural women have been at a disadvantage due to a lack of knowledge on their rights and limitations.
Therefore providing them legal knowledge on their rights is important. He said women can access justice through a court proceedings but noted that justice itself must be based on facts or the truth.
While he encouraged them to use the rule of law as a yardstick to pursue justice, Mr. Johnson also said proceedings and deposition of justice should not be based on perception.
"Best practice requires the fact that equal access to justice is a fundamental right. Universally, many countries have enshrined this right in their constitutions across the globe," Mr. Johnson stated.
Mr. Johnson further stated that ethnic background, culture, and tradition, age, social status, place of residence, disability, legal and financial incapacitation remain factors that continue to hinder women's rights and access to justice in Liberia.
These challenges, according to him, continue to affect women at all levels, eluding the principle of equal justice for all.
He said the principle of equal rights provides a basis for all human beings to be equal before the law.
Johnson added that rural women are vulnerable in most instances; noting that they are denied the right to information, property, equal protection, due process, fair and impartial trial in court as well as the right to custody of their children.
"In effect, women structure or groupings should at all times follow the required channels to champion and promote women's rights and equality before the law and the court," Johnson said. "This entails that women should consolidate and complement each other's efforts at all levels of the society. This is needed to quicken outcomes in pursuit of equal justice."
He encouraged women to create a mechanism to monitor justice and ensure that security institutions' performances adhere to women's basic rights and access to justice.
Madam Teta Lloyd, River Cess County rural women chairperson who spoke on behalf of the participants, lauded IREDD for the training but informed them that the two-day training is not enough to provide an informed decision for women across the county.
Madam Lloyd noted that women in River Cess are seriously faced with injustice from their male counterparts due to a lack of information. As such, the training should be taken to all parts of the county.