Liberia: Civil Society Organizations Demand Presidential Action Against Rape
MONROVIA – Madam Macdella Cooper, a former presidential candidate and women’s rights advocate, is demanding President George Weah to make a policy statement on the alarming rate at which rape is on the increase in Liberia.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Her call was made during a program commemorating the celebration of the International Justice Day. In her statement, she called on President George Weah join other voices to speak against the menace of rape, gender and sexual-based violence against women and girls.
Ms. Cooper: “If you are not in the fight against rape you are a rapist; and if you are in the elected position we will get you out because people didn’t elect you to sit there and be silent. They elected you to fight their right.
“We are calling on the President of this nation to stand with us against all the injustices in our country. Mr. President, we are calling on you this day to stand with the UN, the CSOs and victims and voice your opinion so that your followers who might or might not be perpetrators, so they all know you stand with us, it may stop the raping of our women and daughters.”
She further committed herself to demanding justice as a human rights advocate. “We are not asking, we are demanding justice; we are going to the Executive Mansion to demand a word from the President just as he told us to stay home six o’clock every day, he needs him say a word.”
Liberia has about 700 reported rape cases, according to a Justice Ministry report.
“We are calling on the President of this nation to stand with us against all the injustices in our country. Mr. President, we are calling on you this day to stand with the UN, the CSOs and victims and voice your opinion so that your followers who might or might not be perpetrators, so they all know you stand with us, it may stop the raping of our women and daughters.”– Ms. MacDella Cooper
Ultimatum for government action
On the occasion of the celebration of this year’s International Justice Day, the Human Rights community through its Secretary General, Adama K. Dempster, called on the Government of Liberia to not use COVID-19 as an excuse to not meet up with his national and international human rights obligations. He referenced the increase in sexual and gender-base violence in the country and the implementation of the United Nations Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Liberia.
According to him, the UN Concluding Observations provide that the State party (Liberia) should in particular: (a) ensure that all alleged perpetrators of gross human rights violations and war crimes are impartially prosecuted and, if found guilty, be punished in accordance with the gravity of the acts committed, regardless of their status or any domestic legislation on immunities, and remove any persons who have been proven to be involved in gross human rights violations and war crimes from official position.
The UN also demand government to take all measures necessary to implement the TRC recommendations and consider establishing a well-resourced body, comprising government representatives, the National Independent Commission on Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations, to monitor the implementation of the those recommendations;
Also, part of the UN demand is to develop and implement a comprehensive reparations scheme for all victims of gross human rights violations and war crimes; and, (d) redouble its efforts aimed at fostering reconciliation and sustaining peace, with the participation of victims and their families as well as Civil Society Organizations active in seeking Justice for past crimes.
Dempster further noted that Liberia through its government is under a serious watch eye of UN on how she would address the UN Committee because the period given her under the UN Concluding Observations has expired (July 2018 – July 15, 2020).
VP Taylor wants harsher punishment
Recently, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor called for harsh punishment against any man who rapes a woman over 18 years and a harsher punishment for those guilty of raping girls under 18 years of age.
According to her, desperate times call for desperate measures.
She believes that stronger punishment for heinous crimes should serve as a deterrent to perpetrators that would show society rejection and unacceptability of the criminal actions.
The Vice President also urged the Association of Female Lawyers to submit an amendment to the law on rape calling for tougher punishment.
“This call is right and will help to end actions of rape against our women and our daughters. I also call on the ‘Movement for One Liberia’ to establish community-based activities across our country to create awareness about the crime, setup watch team to help watch over our daughters.
Further in her statement, the VP called for the naming and shaming of those she referred to as predators on young women and also called on the Ministry of Gender to begin a robust a program to deal with the issue of rape from the point of perpetration to the law.
A Call for Death Penalty
A fortnight ago, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Maj. Gen. Prince Johnson, called for the introduction of a law seeking death penalty for rapists in the country.
He said though his call may not resonate with Liberia’s international partners, there is the need for tougher actions to be taken to end the menace which is becoming rampant in the country.
“The international community does not actually support this decision, but with the statistics we just heard, there is the need that we start to look whether we can revisit the issue of death penalty for rapists because this is getting serious”.
“I am not a legal person and I know that the legal people will look at it and discuss it. But, I think there is a need to look into that because, we have also heard about some women who are lying; they should also face the full weight of the law”.
General Johnson continued: “I am saying we should revisit the issue of the death penalty and see how best we can fast track this whole thing”.