Bong County’s Stakeholders Sign Joint Communiqué Calling on authorities to Hold Regular Dialogue
Gbarnga, Bong County – Stakeholders at a one day county dialogue organized by the Rural Human Rights Activist (RHRAP) and Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED) have called on County Authority through a Joint Communiqué to regularly host county dialogues.
The dialogue organized by the two civil society organizations, which brought together 37 stakeholders, focused on access to justice and human rights situation within the county. Over the last the three years, the dialogue has fostered cooperation and peaceful interaction among different stakeholders, giving the evidence that there was lack of dialogue and trust between community members and the security apparatus.
Because community/government engagement have proved to be very effective to improving information sharing and accountability that foster pro-active solutions aimed at addressing challenges within the criminal justice system, the stakeholders at the dialogue forum through a resolution called for its standardization at the county level, which is needed for continuation beyond the project period.
RHRAP and SHED are currently implementing an European Union funded project “Strengthening Human Rights of Prisoners Within Correctional Facilities and at Grass Root Level in Liberia” in Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Margibi counties.
The project continues to address some of the many challenges facing the justice system in Liberia through Legal Representation for Prolong Pre-Trial Detainees, provision of phones for inmates to make calls to their lawyers and families, capacity building of Police and Correction Officers, support to prison documentation and training of Community, Religious, and Traditional Leaders as well as organizing county and national level dialogues toward the advancement of the rule of law, human rights and cohesion building between citizens and duty bearers.
Speaking at the dialogue forum, Superintendent of Bong County in person of Madam Esther Walker, applauded the organizing partners and embraced community and religious leaders’ decision to take ownership of organizing County Level Dialogue Forums as a way of helping themselves.
“In other areas that I have visited in Bong County, community residents are contributing money to host their meetings and you could do the same. My advice to you is that there is a donor fatigue in Liberia now, and so don’t just come to this kind of important working session for sitting fees (cash), but to learn something that will help improve our county”, the Superintendent stated.
The community and religious representatives also drafted a resolution and presented same to the Bong County authorities to support their quest to take ownership of hosting quarterly County Dialogue Forum that will enable community residents to analyze and contribute to the maintenance of the rule of law and the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights.
Speaking further, the Madam Esther Walker intimated that, “To let you know that I am very impressed with your decision this morning, I am requesting you to appoint your leaders at this forum who will represent you people at our county security sector meetings here in Gbarnga City; and those names should be forwarded to me and we can start from there”.
Lorma Baysah, Executive Director of RHRAP, stated that one of the main reasons for the over crowdedness of the prison is because party litigants are not willing to follow up their cases at the courts.
The Superintendent also buttressed his assertion and urged the people of Bong County to help in promoting the justice system.