Liberia: Pres. Weah Expresses Support for Capital Punishment for Child Molestation

Monrovia — President George Manneh Weah has availed his unflinching support for capital punishment for those molesting minors in the country.

According to an Executive Mansion press release, President Weah has instructed that the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce structure a technical team with relevant stakeholders, to discuss, consult and flesh out finalized document on capital punishment of rape.

"As President of Liberia, it is my responsibility to lead all efforts to address social and societal irregularities. As Feminist-in-Chief, I have stated on many occasions that I have zero tolerance for Sexual and Gender Based Violence. Let me re-emphasize that this Administration remains unrelentingly committed to curtailing this evil scourge," President Weah said.

President Weah statement comes right after government concluded a special stakeholder meeting on the overview of the status of rape and other Sexual and Gender Based Violence cases in the country.

The meeting follows a month-long engagement of the GoL's Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on SGBV.

The Taskforce, chaired by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Co-Chaired by the Ministers of Justice and Finance and Development Planning, submitted preliminary findings to the Office of the President on July 18th, 2020 for his consideration and further mandate.

President Wea,h following the findings from the engagement stressed the need to have a nationwide consultation meeting to address mitigate the scourge of rape, especially as it seemed to have surged during this COVID-19 Pandemic.

During the meeting, President Weah expressed that the country is witnessing an alarming increase in Sexual and Gender Based Violence especially rape, during a time when we are at war with the ravaging Coronavirus Pandemic.

According to the Liberian President, the crime of rape has risen to an unacceptable level in Liberia today. "Not only in the frequency of this terrible act, but also in the depraved and demonic methods used by the perpetrators of this violent crime, including the defilement of young children - even infants are murder," President Weah asserted.

The meeting of key stakeholders which was called and Chaired by President Weah, brought together several other high-profile government officials including Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor who Co-chaired the meeting.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Bhofal Chambers, the President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie and Chief Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court Francis S. Kporkor Sr. also attended in observance.

Cabinet members who attended included the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Mrs. Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr., Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Hon. Nathaniel F. McGill, Finance and Development Planning Minister Hon. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., Internal Affairs Minister Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf, Minister of Youths & Sports Hon. D. Zeogar Wilson, Information Minister Hon. Eugene Lenn Nagbe, Labor Minister Moses Y. Kollie, Minister of State without Portfolio Trokon Kpui, and Presidential Legal Advisor Archibald Bernard. The City of Mayor of Monrovia Jefferson T. Koijee, the Deputy Minister of Education Alton Kesselle and MGCSP's Deputy Ministers Hassan Karneh and Parleh Harris were also present at the meeting.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, along with the Ministers of Health & Justice, made detailed presentations on the state of affairs as it regards the fight against rape and other SGBV cases.

In separate statement, they outlined challenges faced within the fight, and recommendations to be considered for the surest ways of curbing the overall SGBV plague.

Prime amongst other suggestions were - the revision of the existing laws (Children's, Rape, and Inheritance especially), for loopholes for possible amendments - for example - Amendment of the Rape Law to prohibit re-victimizing of survivors by posting their photos, calling their names in public etc and considerations of building a new prison in the remotest area to be found.

Others were conditioned for hard labor, geared toward hosting convicted perpetrators of SGBV crimes; strengthening GoL's funding support to the Gender, Justice and Health Ministries in order to reinforce their legal, well-being and health care support for survivors - including support to Safe Homes and One Stop Centers; the operationalization of the sex offenders registry and a specialized Gender Taskforce Unit within the Liberia National Police, same as the ERU or PSU, to specifically handle SGBV cases; the establishment of Community SGBV Monitors and the hosting of an Anti-SGBV National Consultation/Conference.

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