Liberia: Rights Activists Give Government 21 Days Ultimatum to Address Rape Issue or Risk Another Protest
Monrovia – The Affiliation of Women and Child Rights Activists, organizers of last week’s three-day protest against rape, has given the George Weah-led government 21 days to take serious action in addressing the issue of rape or else they are going to take to the streets again to demand solutions.
“We call on the President to take deliberate and visible steps to address these concerns or we will mobilize social forces to return to the streets within three weeks,” Natalyn O. Beh, one of the lead campaigners said.
Said Beh: “For emphasis, if the government does not take concrete steps to end this rape pandemic, we will be forced to return to the streets to demand solution. We need solutions now and there is no joke about this.”
The group’s statement comes a day after the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Anti-SGBV presented to President George Weah a road map on curbing SGBV in Liberia.
Last week, the organization presented their petition to the Legislature and the US Embassy but were unable to present another to President George Weah in person.
As the group stopped to present their petition to the President at his office, Gender Minister Williametta Piso Saydee-Tarr, Assistant Minister of Gender Mamensie Kabba, Assistant Minister of Justice Eddie Trawally, and scores of other officials representing the President went at the entrance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive the petition but were rejected by the group from receiving the petition.
The leaders of the group stressed that they wanted no other officials of government to receive their petition besides the President.
Speaking Tuesday, the group called on the President to declare rape a national emergency to enforce proactive investigation into rape-related cases across Liberia.
The group is also pressing the government toward decentralization of Criminal Court E to address the prevalence of sexual violence and ensure that victims have access to what they termed as sensitive justice.
The group requested that the government ensures the amendment of the Domestic Violence Act to emphasize the gross violation of FGM across Liberia and ensure that such practice is criminalized and punishable.
According to the group, people who will be accused of rape and should be tried in a court of competent jurisdiction, to understand the case index and ensure that prolonged pre-trial detainees access justice.
The issue of safe homes built across Liberia for victims of sexual abuse and that DNA Labs are equipped with specialized technicians were also highlighted by the group.
“In the next few weeks, the Affiliation of Child and Women Right Advocates will also share its definitive plan for ending rape in Liberia, this plan will show what role we will play in ending this crisis,” Beh said.
The organization has also condemned the police for their use of force against peaceful protesters. “We don’t want trouble, it is not a source of joy for us to leave our schools, works, and businesses to stand in the streets to demand answers to this rape pandemic. We call on international and regional partners to pressure the government to act. The rape pandemic is killing us, and we cannot allow this to continue.”