Monrovia - At a two-day consultative forum, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) engaged stakeholders on operationalizing the Ethnographic Study Report.
The Ethnographic study was commissioned by the INCHR in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the Peace-Building Fund (PBF). The two-day consultation is a follow- up to the holding of four regional Ethnographic forums held in Bomi, Grand Gedeh, Bong, and Montserrado Counties, among the Kwa, Mande, Mel and Settlers ethnic groups and a subsequent validation by CSOs, GoL UN organizations and other stakeholders. The Chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Justice Gladys K. Johnson, during the consultative forum held in Gbarnga, Bong County, urged the stakeholders to freely provide their inputs and give their fullest cooperation to the process. At least 92 participants took part in the entire exercise including traditional leaders, youth, women, civil society organizations, and people living with disabilities among others. “We are here to put heads together to do good for our country and for ourselves. Don’t hesitate to give your suggestions, make comments and recommendations, because that’s why we are here” the INCHR Chairperson said. At the close of the two-day consultation, a representative of people living with disabilities, Rev. Fallah Bramah thanked the INCHR for the involvement of people with disabilities and physically challenged in the process, which he said was never done in the past. For his part, UNDP Programme Associate Boye Johnson said he was impressed with the progress made by the stakeholders over the two- day forum and thanked the INCHR and participants for a successful deliberation. Mr. Johnson however told the INCHR to place some level of emphasis on ensuring that their work is made visible by involving the media in their future undertakings. Also, the head of the National Civil Society Council pledged the Council’s fullest commitment and support to the National Palava Hut hearing exercise. “On behalf of the National Civil Society Council, I want to say to you (INCHR), we are here to help hold your hands up, we’re here to partner with you in going forward and at the same time help the awareness process…” Madam Frances Greeves said. Following the two-day deliberations, the stakeholders developed step-by-step guidelines as a framework to conducting Palava Hut process in a contextualized approach for each of the four linguistic groups. The framework describes stages from witness engagement, note taking, provision of psychosocial services through case conclusion and performing libations at the end of the process. The session also listed war-related violations that should be addressed under the Palava Hut program. The Ethnographic Study is aimed at setting the pace for the implementation of one of the recommendations contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, which calls for the use of palava hut as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism which would provide the space for the promotion of restorative justice and social cohesion in local communities. The overarching objective is among other things, to identify similarities and dissimilarities in the use of the traditional Palava Hut systems in Liberia, with the intent to contribute to the overall process of national reconciliation and peace-building.