‘Tackle Human Rights Holistically’ – UN Human Rights Official Admonishes Liberian Stakeholders
Monrovia – An official of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), Liberia Country Office is challenging stakeholders in the country including security agencies to tackle issues of human rights holistically.
Report by Edwin Genoway, Jr. [email protected]
Madam Hilda Oyeleda said in order to deal with human rights, all aspects of human rights including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) should all be tackled at all levels of the Liberian society.
Speaking during a one day technical and advisory support session for mentorship and enhanced human rights mainstreaming and promotion organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in Liberia, Madam Oyeleda said the discussion on human rights should cut across and should increase to have medical personnel because they support in gathering evidence to assist prosecution.
“Let’s see how we can advance this workshop so that results are tangible in terms of strengthening justice”, she said.
She told the representatives of the security entities present that they are tasked as duty bearers and should, therefore, discuss issues in holistic a manner and test on the milestone made and look at the way forward.
“There are other initiatives, and we should take stock of milestone that had been met and where there are challenges to discuss strategies on how to take this forward”, she added.
She challenged participants to come out with concrete tangible actions to take back to respective organizations to respond to issues of SGBV.
Atty. Urias Teh Pour, Legal Counsel, Liberia Law Society, Land Rights and Regional Accountability during a presentation on the topic “An overview of the obligation to protect life: International and regional legal framework said the effort to have human rights components in all security sectors is a laudable effort by the Government of Liberia.
He said Liberia has several legal instruments that show protection for human rights and as such the country only needs to implement these instruments.
Atty. Pour said the Constitution of Liberia, 1986 has various provisions on respect for life, liberty and basic human rights.
He said life is so precious that no security personnel should attempt to take away the life of another.
“As security officer, during your duty, you should know that life is so precious and nobody should attempt to take away life”, he said.
He disclosed that there are instances where people are found dead and the Government failed to identify any perpetrators, describing it as a failure by the State to fulfill its responsibility.
“When the state does not find anyone in connection with the commission of a crime, the State has failed its responsibility”, he noted.
He continued “Government is under obligation, somebody must always be responsible. When someone is dead, it is a serious offense and somebody must answer”.
He also indicated that the failure of the state to provide basic services such as health, education, good environment is a violation of human rights.
Francis A. Williams, Commander ERU during a representation on the topic “Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officer: The Principle of Proportionality”, said security officers should always exercise care in dealing with civilians and know where and when to use force.
During his PowerPoint presentation, depicting pictures of the incident at West Point during the Ebola crisis where a civilian was shot, he said security officers should draw a line between when it is necessary to apply force.
“You cannot apply force on somebody that possess no threat to you”, the ERU commander said.
He cautioned that in some instances security personnel should use persuasive means to get what they want accomplished.
“Only use force when the person possess serious threat to your life or the life of others because you are there to protect lives and properties”, Commander Williams said.
At the end of the one day working session, participants agreed to have another working session like a meeting to come out with points to begin taking concrete actions in protecting issues of human rights.
The security entities all agreed to be opened in the operations and work with the Civil Society Organizations to protect human rights at all levels in the country.
The one day working session is one of a series of working sessions meant to improve the overall human rights situation in the country bringing together key individuals from all sectors including the judiciary, security agencies, members of the National Legislature, Civil Society Organizations, amongst others.