Despite the election of the country’s first democratic government in January 2006, Liberia is still recovering from 14 years of conflict. Although the security situation has stabilized in recent years, a combination of weak State institutions,weak law enforcement and a weak judiciary means that human rights are not promoted and protected. Reversing the climate of impunity and ensuring justice for all are the objectives guiding the Human Rights and Protection Section of UNMIL.
The Section has built constructive working relationships with ministries and UN agencies. A peace, human rights and civic education programme was jointly designed by the Ministry of Education, UN agencies and the Section, and launched in schools nationwide. Human rights clubs have also been established in schools in every county. The Human Rights and Protection Section has also supported the State in developing laws and policies, including the enabling legislation for both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Independent National Human Rights Commission. The UNMIL Task Force on the Rights of Children in Conflict with the Law issued a report for study and follow-up action by the Government. Guidelines on minimum standards for operating welfare institutions in Liberia, including orphanages,were endorsed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare as a result of the Section’s report on orphanages.
In 2008 and 2009 the Section will carry out initiatives aimed at integrating human rights standards into national legislation and Government programmes. Information collected through monitoring activities will direct the development of capacity-building and protection strategies. Providing assistance and support to national mechanisms should lead to an operational and functional Independent National Commission on Human Rights and the formulation and implementation of a national human rights action plan that will include reporting to UN treaty bodies and a strengthened judiciary. Providing technical assistance to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in fulfilling its mandate by September 2008 and in issuing its final report, with recommendations, will be a key priority. The Section also plans to strengthen its engagement with Liberia’s civil society by conducting capacity-building activities.