Liberia may have taken steps towards a safer future after the end of the civil war, however the country’s unstable human rights environment has encouraged the United Nations to open a human rights office to supervise the situation.
United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, concluded his three-day visit to Liberia by signing an agreement with the Liberian Government which would ensure the office opens in 2018.
He acknowledged that, although Liberia has progressed in the field of human rights since the conclusion of the civil war, human rights achievements remain precarious, “hence the vital need for the UN to continue our support.”
The office will observe and comment on human rights, while also providing technical support to State institutions, the Independent National Commission for Human Rights, and the civil society (among other partners).
Gilmour stressed the onus now rested on the Government to both protect and promote human rights in Liberia, communicating his concerns about the continuing frequency of female genital mutilation in a meeting with Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The UN human rights official further emphasised the importance of addressing the discrimination against LGBTQI people and those with disabilities, as well as the prevalence of sexual violence; maintaining that the high frequency of rape can be attributed to Liberia’s widespread impunity for the crime.
The appalling overcrowding and insufficient food in prisons was also addressed; a problem which appeared to be a direct result of Liberia’s slow judicial procedures.
“True peace is never possible if people feel that their desire for justice has not been met. Abominable war crimes were committed in this country, and the perpetrators of the worst crimes should now understand that justice will catch up with them,” Gilmour highlighted.