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LIBERIA
PHASE 2

Liberia

1. Liberia Prison Watch conducted seven visits to Bong and Margibi counties to monitor the human rights situation and to raise awareness of the rights of prisoners and detainees among rural communities and members of the criminal justice system. Three meetings were also organized with court officers and security and county officials, during which issues such as the right to a fair trial, legal counsel, torture, etc. were addressed. Information materials were also distributed. The following results were noted at the end of the project: food rations have been improved, cooperation with the ICRC has been strengthened, proper record systems have been established and the courts have begun reviewing their files in order to bring inmates awaiting trial to court so as to reduce the problem of prolonged detention and overcrowding. However, many conditions of detention still need to be changed.

Allocated grant: US$ 2,970

2. “Liberian United for Democracy in Africa” organized seminars, workshops and the distribution of materials for indigenous people to raise awareness about the sassywood ordeal system ‑ the placement of a burning metal object on a suspect's body to induce confession in a criminal investigation – and other native ordeals. A meeting of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, government officials, representatives of the National Bar Association and other actors was organized to address these issues.

Allocated grant: US$ 1,530

3. Liberia National Democracy Monitors (LINDEM) carried out a number of activities. They broadcast an 82-lesson radio programme, in English and local languages, designed to teach, interpret and explain the Liberian Constitution and some cardinal principles of democracy. The programme was on the air for 15 minutes every Thursday and Friday. The grant recipient reproduced the country's Constitution in ten lessons for Liberian grade schools and community-based civic discussion forums. Owing to a lack of resources, the NGO cannot meet the large demand for copies of the book from numerous schools. LINDEM also provided two-day in-house orientation training for 60 civic moderators who learned how to teach the country’s new Constitution. Representatives of the Ministry of Education viewed it as a constructive initiative. Two workshops were also organized on issues such as the rule of law, citizenship, citizens’ obligations to the State, gender equality, etc. A total of 240 persons participated in the workshops. The NGO representatives reported that OHCHR should consider long-term support for civil society in Liberia and should also envisage the setting-up of an Office in Liberia for that purpose.

Allocated grant: US$ 1,500

4. Liberia Democracy Watch implemented a three-month civic and human rights education programme targeting high schools. The project focused on teaching of the Liberian Constitution, emphasizing fundamental rights encompassing a range of political, economic and social rights as well as the right to a fair trial. It also provided information about international instruments for the protection of human rights. Approximately 1,000 teenagers were reached and had the opportunity to express, for the first time, their views on human rights issues during seminars, workshops and round-table discussions. The evaluation questionnaires that the NGO circulated at the end of the sessions, and which the attendees had to fill in, showed the interest of the targeted population in human rights and their wish to see human rights education becoming an integral part of the overall education system.

Allocated grant: US$ 3,000

5. The Committee for the Protection of Children's Rights trained newspaper staff in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, conducted field activities involving, for example, interviews and photographs of children, and organized meetings attended by the general public and State representatives. As a result, many articles were published in different newspapers throughout the country, and several copies were distributed to prison officials, members of the police, etc. The grant recipient stated that it was very important for the children to be interviewed in order to express their wishes and concerns about their rights and situation.

Allocated grant: US$ 1,500

6. The Forerunners of Children's Universal Rights for Survival, Growth and Development (FOCUS) trained 20 local volunteers, who then conducted 12 weekly awareness sessions with 6 pilot community groups on children's rights, during which materials were distributed. This initiative was carried out in all parts of the country. It led to the inclusion of child-related issues in the communities' agenda and to the setting-up of a discussion group involving NGO representatives and government officials on the issue of the “bush school” (in the Sande and Poro societies) and the situation of the girl child. There was also a commitment to set up a child rights monitoring committee at country level to report on and discourage cases of child abuse. The need for community child rights advocates to carry out sustained community advocacy was also stressed.

Allocated grant: US$ 3,000

7. AVoice of the Future@ organized two workshops on the role of girls in advocating and promoting the rights of the girl child (themes addressed: teenage pregnancy, HIV prevention). About 60 girls attended these events which were facilitated by representatives of the NGO, UNICEF and WHO. At the end of the workshops, a 12-point resolution was adopted and presented to the relevant government agencies. The grant recipient also established 15 human rights youth clubs, with more than 1,300 members, in selected schools in three counties.

Allocated grant: US$ 1,500

 

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