Liberia: Justice For Five-Yr-Old SGBV Survivor Through UN Joint Rule of Law Programme￼
Monrovia – Kou Dahn (not real name) aged 5 years is the daughter of Luogon Dahn (not real name) and Nenlay Dahn (not real name).
She was raped by Prince Mangbene, 19 years on July 2, 2021, in Zuluyee Town, Nimba County.
Kou and her mother had gone to their rice farm to tend to the rice. While at the farm, Kou’s mother left her at the kitchen to fetch water for them to prepare food.
While there, Prince Mangbene upon realizing that she was alone, grabbed little Kou, took her to the bush and raped her.
Kou’s cries for help were heard by her father who was returning to the village at the time. Luogon began to search for her following the direction of her cries.
He soon caught Prince Mangbene red handed raping his daughter. Prince ran but was later arrested by community members and taken to the police station in Ganta, Nimba County.
Prince Mangbene was processed, and his case submitted to Sanniquellie in Nimba County for prosecution at Criminal Court E. He was found guilty of rape by Judge Hector Quiguah and sentenced to 4 years during the October term of court in 2021.
Kou was provided with legal aid by Efficient Research and Development Institute (ERDI) a CSO that forms part of a network of CSOs established by UN Joint Rule of Law Programme to ensure that survivors of sexual and gender-based violence have access to the justice system.
ERDI also ensured that Kou received medical treatment and transported her and her parents to attend the court trial. After spending one year in a safe home in Sanniquellie, Kou who is still not in good health condition is currently living with her aunt, Yealu Dahn (not real name) in Hope Village Community, Ganta Nimba County.
She is being provided with health care and tuition fees by ERDI to ensure that she fully recovers, remains in school and acquires quality education.
The UN Joint Rule of Law Programme seeks to address key developmental challenges by promoting the rights of women, gender equality, and children’s rights, while ensuring that physical and legal protection, as well as the psychological wellbeing of people, communities and civil society and access to justice are enhanced.
In response to the prevalence of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the Programme supported the Judiciary of Liberia to establish specialized Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Criminal Courts E to provide accountability to survivors of SGBV.
The Criminal Court E was established by the Judiciary of Liberia with support from the UN Joint Rule of Law Programme with funding from Sweden and Ireland.
To ensure the efficiency of Courts E, the Programme has supported the establishment of a network of women Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Bong and Nimba counties to sensitize the public on the services provided by the Court, support to survivors of SGBV and witnesses to access the courts and monitor the efficiency of the courts and referral pathway.
Furthermore, local structures specifically women and communities are being supported through the referral pathway to enable them report SGBV cases identified in their communities.
Through the support of the network of CSOs, convictions are increasingly being secured in the courts.