Act on the Increasing Number of Violence against Liberian Children

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Dear Honorable Representatives,

I present warm compliments and herein I write to express my concern over the increase number of violations against Children rights in Liberia.

Over the past few years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of violence continuously perpetrated against Liberian Children with a high increase rate in Child Street selling and rape. Sadly, violence against children has become an undeniable reality; dozens of children risk their lives everyday between cars to sell cold water and other commodities when indeed this honorable house in 2011 signed the Liberian Children’s law prohibiting violence against Liberian Children. The poor implementation of the 2011 Children’s Law of Liberia is creating a dark cloud over the future of Liberian children. Are you aware that even four (4) months old babies are being raped? Oh yes! Every day, there are either horrifying reports of rape, child abuse, mysterious deaths of Children, kidnapped or trafficking of children and girls in Liberia.

Honorable Representatives, if nothing is urgently done by this honorable house to ensure the implementation of the Liberian Children’s Law and other international instruments like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (‘’Bearing in mind that the need to extend particular care to the child has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924 and in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted by the General Assembly on 20 November 1959 and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (in particular in articles 23 and 24), in the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (in particular in article 10). Article 19  further states that: States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child), the African Chapter on the Rights and Welfare of Children States in (Article 21: Governments should do what they can to stop harmful social and cultural practices, such as child marriage, that affect the welfare and dignity of children.). I am afraid if steps are not taken urgently to implement these international protocols would further encourage unscrupulous individuals to continuously violate many more Liberian Children.

Honorable Men and Women of this esteemed body, kindly be reminded that the Children of Liberia are the future of this nation, and that we must ( Specifically you by the kind of law passed and the upholding of protocols you are signatory to hereof ) invest all resources possible to protect the prospects of Liberia’s future.

Beloved Lawmakers, as I write this letter, my heart is heavy over the high vulnerability rate faced by our Liberian Children, in communities and homes children have been exposed to drugs, sex/pornography, alcohol and gambling; they have been allowed to experiment harmful practices when indeed our laws protect children from experimenting them; Section 21.1 and 2 of the Liberian Children’s Law States that: (Every child shall have the right to be protected from unfair and bad sex practice, including having sex for money and taking picture naked for money.The Penal Code and other laws, which are passed by the Representatives and Senators for the purpose of protecting children from unfair and bad sex practice, shall look at the interest of the child first.)

Esteemed Honorable body, the inadequate or low access to education (62% of Liberian Children in the primary school age are out of school. UNICEF, Liberia 2016 report), low access to juvenile justice, safe homes, rehabilitation centers and child friendly spaces for children are challenges posturing serious threat to the survival and development of Liberian children. I want to make this passionate appeal to you honorable lawmakers, please increase the budgetary support to Liberian children; it will help to address some of these pressing challenges confronting children in Liberia.

In my state of agony for Liberian Children, I have refused to be hopeless because the future seems bright only if the right steps are taken and better decisions are made to protect the Children of Liberia. I encourage you to engage your constituents in a more consistent way to join the fight in ending violence against Liberian Children. We must be very practical in our actions for Liberian children, we must consider children. The full implementation of the Liberian Children’s law is a must. The time is now!!!!

Honorable Representatives, Liberian Children have become the most victims of Sexual Gender Base Violence (SGBV) cases in the country. In 2017, the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection reported a total of 1,685 SGBV cases, of the total number; about 1,082 were children under the ages of 17-years which accounts for over sixty percent (60%) of the above mentioned figure. In 2016 alone about 1,413 SGBV cases were reported with a total of 1,555 SGBV cases similarly reported in 2015 respectively.

These statistics are too alarming and I hope it would further provoke practical actions from you in the best interest of Liberian Children. Rape is gradually becoming a culture, we must battle it and ensure that no child suffer the harsh hands of sexual abuse. My heart is saddened whenever a child/girl is raped.

Fortunately, this Honorable House consists of morally upright Mothers and Fathers; so therefore, it makes it easier to communicate about the safety of your children as I am sure that none of you in this Esteem House will even want your daughter, sister or mother to be raped…!!! Will you? Your silence means a resounding no.

Rape leaves a lasting scar of trauma and stigma that you would never want to experience. I listened to a rape survivor who volunteer to tell her story to create awareness on the danger of rape; it was a horrible experience. You see, many women specifically children have lost their lives to the hands of rape, some would never have the chance to reproduce. Sadly, the Liberian Senate doing its 60th day sitting of the 6thsession in October 2017 voted to amend the New Rape law of Liberia. The amendment recommended that an accused person on bail for the commission of the crime of Rape should report to the court on a monthly basis. Distinguished 54th House of Legislature, let it kindly be noted that we as a nation have gone too far in the fight against Rape, we cannot afford to lose focus when the fight against Rape itself has just began.

Honorable Representatives, amending the new rape law from non-billable to billable offense will only encourage cash for sexual-violence which would further increase the number of rape cases in Liberia thereby highly endangering Liberian Children. This I can assure you as an acclaimed Child Rights Advocate who has worked across the fifteen political subdivision of Liberia.

Our problem in Liberia has not been the law it has been the lack of implementation and the ineffectiveness of the Judiciary system of Liberia. The Failure of our government to improve the judiciary legal system has led to the amendment of the New Rape Law.

Amending the Rape law by the Liberian senate was not the solution to fight the over crowdedness of cases on the docket of criminal Court E; the amendment if concurred by this honorable body will have the propensity to cripple our fight for a free and fair rape trial in Liberia.

My esteemed Mothers and Fathers who Children through our parents votes expressed overwhelming confidence in you that your judgment made on our behalf is and will always be right; at this critical moment in our country history, I implore you to stand with the Children, girls and women of Liberia.

Please, with all sincerity and certainty of the future of every Liberian child, do not concur with the senate to amend the New Rape Law of Liberia.

This honorable house must be the change; the hopes of Liberian Children and women are in your hands, it is my hope that the honorable House of Representatives will ensure that the Amendment of the New Rape Law is in the best interest of Liberian Children. If there’s any changes that must be made in the law, we must seek to protect the rights of men merely accused of rape that are behind bars but has never gotten the chance through court trail due to the over-crowdedness of cases on the docket of Criminal Court E and Liberia’s slow judiciary proceedings for rape cases. We must improve speedy trial for Rape Cases.

Honorable Lawmakers, Instead of amending the new Rape law, we must work to strengthen and improve our judiciary system, you must seek to expand the jurisdiction of Criminal court E at the various magisterial courts around the country and increase the number of judges specialized in Sexual Abuse crimes.

Signed & Approved: ________________________________

Satta F. Sheriff

Acclaimed National Child Rights Advocate

Former mouthpiece (Speaker) of the Liberian Children

Cc: President of the Liberian Senate

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