Liberia: Shed, RHRAP Donate Anti - COVID Materials to Liberia Bureau of Corrections for Prisons in Bong and Margibi Counties

Monrovia — The Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation of the Ministry of Justice has received materials worth over US$2,000 from its partners to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus in three prisons in the country.

The donated items include hand washing buckets and barrels, detergents, chlorine, hand gloves, nose masks, and thermometers.

The donors are the Ministry of Justice's partners, who are working to strengthen the justice system and also provide support to prison facilities and inmates.

The partners work to address some of the many challenges faced within the justice system, including protecting detainees whose rights are at risk of being violated through illegal arrests, prolonged detention, inhuman detention practices, sexual and gender-based violence and no access to legal counsel and representation.

Through the partners, prisoners' rights are promoted by strengthening the capacities of justice actors and promoting adherence to national and international standards for prisoners.

The implementing organizations are Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED), Rural Human Rights Activist Program (RHRAP) and the Finn Church Aid. The funding to purchase the US$2,339 worth of items was made available by the European Union.

Making the presentation of the anti-Coronavirus materials on behalf of the donors, Joyce Pajibo, the Executive Director of SHED, called for "concrete collaborative efforts" to prevent any case of the COVID-19 in Liberia's prisons.

Madam Pajibo also emphasized her organization's commitment to supporting the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitations (BCR) during the pandemic so as prevent the spread of the virus among inmates in three prison facilities in Margibi and Bong Counties.

"The reason why we are in the field is to support your [BCR] efforts -- is to buttress your efforts. We are not looking for any political recognition, we just want the inmates to be served," she said Thursday while presenting the items to staff of the BCR at the Ministry of Justice in Sinkor, Monrovia.

At the same time, she praised the leadership team of the BCR for being very passionate in their appeal to solicit support for prisons across the country.

She said the donation will help encourage and support the washing of hands in prisons.

"We have brought some of those medium sized buckets and these detergents and power soaps so that it will be mixed with the chlorine we see here," she said.

"We also have the thermometer so that everyone entering in there [prison] will be tested and those who are not in good state to enter will be restricted and asked to treat themselves before entering the prison."

The SHED Executive Director stressed that abiding by the preventative measures will be "the only way we can protect the most vulnerable, who happen to be the inmates".

She assured that staff of her organization and other partners will conduct training for beneficiaries in order to ensure the appropriate use of the items donated.

Speaking on behalf of BCR, Mr. Sheriff Ballah Massaquoi, Director of Monrovia Central Prison, thanked the partners for the items and promised "proper accountability and equitable distribution" amongst the three prison facilities.

"At this point we have to be proactive before even hearing about case ... the information from out there got us to even begin doing the preventative measures because we learned from the past," said Massaquoi, who referenced the challenges prisons in the country faced during the Ebola epidemic.

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