Kofi Woods: Liberia is a Traumatized Nation in Need of Help

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Den Haag, Netherlands – Renowned Human Rights lawyer, Samuel Kofi Woods says the crippling effects of Liberia’s 14-year devastating civil war continue to harm its population; leaving it in a state peril.

Delivering the keynote address at the 100 years anniversary of Save the Children International in Den Haag, The Netherlands, Atty. Woods said Liberia is gradually sliding back into civil conflict because “we have a nation comprised of angry raging and violent victims and perpetrators deprived of the right to know, the right to the truth and the right to justice.” 

Describing Liberia as a traumatized nation in peril and needs help, Atty. Woods said most of todays’ leaders were children who were robbed of their childhood and continue to be affected by the negative vices of the war.

Said Atty. Woods: “A short time-line of a Child in Liberia at five years old in 1989 when the war actually started will reveal a child at 38 years old now who have not known a stable and functional educational and health system, no proper social system and services, no law and order, the lack of accountability and lack of respect for human dignity.”

He continues: “At 15 years in 1989, that child is now around 45 years old, which is the average decision maker in Liberia today. This is an individual who never experienced childhood.”

He noted that 30 to 40 percent of Liberia’s current population is within this age group and further most of its leaders are within this age group: Liberia is a traumatized nation in peril and needs help!”

“We are gradually sliding back into a civil conflict because we have a nation comprised of angry raging and violent victims and perpetrators deprived of the right to know, the right to the truth and the right to justice.  The warlords turned politicians and their allies continue to rule and plunder using democracy as a shield to legitimate their desire to ruin and plunder the state.”

Liberia, like other countries, he said qualifies for all of the antecedents of a violent conflict: lack of adherence to international standards, failure to protect our children and punish perpetrators, failure to develop programs to rehabilitate and offer a future of hope and promise to our children.

Speaking further, he joined the many voices in calling for an end to impunity and the development of programs to properly rehabilitate adults who have been affected during the war. 

“To guarantee peace and assure our children of a future of hope and promise, we must end impunity, hold perpetrators (war & economic crimes both at home and abroad) accountable, develop new psychological and social programs to rehabilitate, address drug abuse and addiction and guide adults who have been trapped in the mind of the child but possesses the body of an adult,” he avowed.

He said: “They have become parents without being a child. They are our collective liability. They are our new liabilities. Today’s Children abused and deprived have become today’s adults in despair and depression. We must punish to deter and re-establish respect for the rule of law.”

Recommendations

Meanwhile, as Save the Children celebrates its 100 years of is existence, Atty. Woods called on the organization to reflect on the ideas of its founders by working “more aggressively for justice and peace because there can be no peace without justice.”

He called for a Global Children Index (if any exists to improve upon) to properly document and provide a global data on how countries treat their children even in conflict or countries emerging from conflicts. 

The details of this index, he proposed, can be designed and developed based on key issues including health, cultural practices, education, labor, human trafficking and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to him, the index should demonstrate how responsible countries are treating the weakest population including the children; while the result of the index should be used to establish internal frameworks to engage international, regional and national institutions, actions and programs.

In addition, Save the Children should engage global institutions and governments on how to improve the lives of our Children; appoint regional and or global ambassadors that will focus on direct engagements with national governments to promote issues of Justice. 

He also proffered that regional ambassadors could be appointed to assist SCF in discussions with political leaders to address some of the issues and pay more attention to the problems associated with their country; advocate to end impunity and assist with the development of programs to assist countries in rehabilitating the children and provide education and awareness among others.

He called for a robust advocacy to stop the production of weapons of destruction and seek to decrease the growing military industrial complex in the world and punishment for those who are in retreat of compliance to international laws.

“We cannot treat our Children as our future. We must respect and care for them in the present to guarantee a future of hope and promise. The Children on the streets of Liberia as hawkers, in Yemen and Syria or anywhere in the world suffering from man’s inhumanity to man and other cruelties could be tomorrow’s Hitler or Mother Teresa depending on how we protect and care for them.”

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