MONROVIA –The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has supported the Government of Liberia to conduct a final validation of the Government of Liberia State Report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a four-year human rights country situational review process that requires each state to submit a summary report on how it implemented the various international human rights obligations the State subscribed to.
Apart from the report submitted by the State, there are also reports submitted by CSOs, National Human Rights Institutions, especially those with “A Status” and other regional and international bodies that form part of the review documents.
Speaking on behalf of OHCHR Country Representative at the opening of the validation session, OHCHR Acting Deputy Country Representative, Sonny Onyegbula, highlighted the importance of the State Report. He said the process is important for the Country in a number of ways citing that States can only show case how they have discharged their international human rights obligations when they submit their reports to the relevant Human Rights Council Committees and Treaty Bodies.
Signed by Ladymai Hunter Summon, Communications Officer United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR-Liberia a press release quoted Mr. Onyebula disclosed that the writing and drafting of such reports involves consultations with different stakeholders in the country which OHCHR has been supporting the government through the Human Rights Division of the Ministry of Justice.
The stakeholder’s consultation creates awareness of the State’s human rights obligations and creates sense of ownership on the part of the stakeholders that participate in the process. “The process is a reminder to States that there is time for them to account on how they have implemented the human rights obligations they subscribed to by showing verifiable evidence of such implementation”.
Mr. Onyegbula pointed out that OHCHR is aware that Liberia still has many reports pending for different treaty bodies. Some of these bodies have not even received Liberia’s initial report like the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights pursuant to implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
This situation should improve. “In this direction, OHCHR will be supporting Liberia in resuscitating the National Mechanism on Reporting and Follow UP to be actively involved in leading the process of data gathering and drafting of human rights mechanisms reports. This will ensure that backlogs of Liberia treaty reports will be cleared in no distant time”.
OHCHR has been steadfast in supporting Liberia to discharge her international human rights reporting obligations. In this regard, OHCHR Liberia has provided support for drafting and submitting State report to the Human Rights Committee as it concerns implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Similar support was provided for the State report to the Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities regarding implementation of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The office has also provided support to the Independent National Commission on Human rights (INCHR) and Civil Society Organizations Human Rights Advocacy Platform (CSO-HRAP) to draft and submit their respective stakeholders report for Liberia’s 3rd Cycle UPR review.
Also speaking at the Validation of the Government of Liberia State Report, the Director of the Human Rights Protection Division at the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Kutaka Devine Togbah commended OHCHR for the continues support to the fulfillment of Liberia’s International Human rights treaty obligations including the State 3rd Circle UPR Report.
He said Liberia is a part of the United Nations system where 193 member States are obliged to report on the situation of human rights in their respective countries.
Mr. Togbah said the present State report is addressing recommendations received from the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR). “It includes improving the rights of persons with disabilities, implementation of provisions in human rights conventions/treaties, the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism, protection of civil and political rights including the right to fair and speedy trial, to address the issue of dual citizenship, amongst others. On the overall, the document states what legal and administrative steps Liberia has taken and to what extend implementation has taken place on the recommendations received from the last UPR”.
Also, captured in the UPR 3rd cycle report are challenges impeding efforts by government to address various challenges.
The validation brought together representatives from various Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs) of Government, Civil Society Organizations and the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR).
Liberia was expected to submit its UPR report to the Human Rights Council by the 3rd February, but requested an extension to submit at the end of February. Following the submission, Liberia will in May 2020, attend the review session of the 3rd UPR Cycle in Geneva.