Awakened Sleeping Giant -INCHR New Boss Vows Decisive Actions: Names Mysterious Disappearances, Gender Violence, Protection of the Vulnerable, etc.

By: Rancy S. Teewia

Awaking a sleeping human rights giant into the ring to fight, the newly inducted Chairman of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Cllr. T Dempster Brown has alarmed at the increasing human rights violation and disrespect for the rule of law across Liberia and swore to combat the increasing violations of the right of the Liberian people. .

The human rights lawyer also made reference to preventing discrimination against the disabled who he said must enjoy their rights to life, including job opportunities and amongst others, and noted as a matter of concern the prevalence of gender-based violence such as rape and sexual harassment in every sector of society, including workplaces and schools, which have been committed with impunity, saying the reports of monitors of the INCHR revealed that human rights violation is in every sector of the society because of the disrespect for the rule of law.

Cllr. Brown committed himself to fighting human rights violation during his induction as Chairman of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at the Headquarters of Commission in Monrovia before local and international stakeholders including representatives of the United States Embassy, European Union Delegation to Liberia, Embassy of Ireland, Chairperson House Committee on Human and Civil Rights, local and international partners, and civil society actors.

Cllr Brown’s desire to combat human rights violations from an official capacity was frustrated when his nomination to head the Independent Human Rights Commission was withdrawn by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration after he divulged his resolve to fight against the violation of human rights to the Liberian senate.

The Liberian lawyer has since been combating human rights violations as a private lawyer up to his nomination by President Weah and confirmation to serve in the five-year tenure that the job requires.

The INCHR Chairman also assured the protection of the rights of every Liberian and foreign resident alike, laying special emphasis on the rights of the vulnerable people including women and children as well as the disabled population.

He also said he will nip in the bud the wave of mysterious disappearances in the country. “The Commission is concerned about the disappearances and mysterious deaths of peaceful citizens including the brutalization of peaceful citizens by State security.”

He recalled that the Commission, last week, received information from Grand Cape Mount about the disappearance of one Hawa and Mulbah Kunyon, and up to present their whereabouts are yet to be known,” said Cllr. Brown.

Chairman Brown observed that in the past and present regimes, State Security conducts investigations about these incidents with no finding made available to the public. He, therefore, assured that the Commission will engage partners for funding to train INCHR’s monitors to enable them to conduct transparent investigations.

“We will educate our people on the effects of early childhood marriage which is associated with rape, child labor, child trafficking and the negative effects of compromising rape cases based on cultural practices. We will seek funding to conduct workshops for the police and other members of the State security as well as judicial officials,” Cllr. Brown said.

Speaking also at the occasion, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, said the EU is founded on a shared determination to promote peace and stability and to build a world founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Amb. Delahousse said the EU has been on the side of Liberia for many years supporting respect for human rights in all the fields of cooperation.

“Gender equality and women’s rights are, as we know, part of the fundamental human rights. In Liberia, we are – together with our Member States, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and France – are supporting Liberian women, men, girls and boys in various ways to change patriarchal norms and behaviors, to enhance women economic empowerment, and increase women participation and representation in decision-making and leadership positions,” Amb. Delahousse said.

According to him, through the Spotlight Initiative program, EU is committed in its quest to promote gender equality and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence including harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage.

The EU diplomat said through the Spotlight Initiative, the INCHR and other key institutions including Law Reform Commission, the Legislative Drafting Bureau, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Gender, Children and social protection and civil society organizations have gained knowledge on how to review and amend policies and legislations to comply with human rights standards in accordance with gender responsive and human rights based approach.

“We continue to promote the observance of international humanitarian law; we will fight vigorously against impunity for serious crimes of concern to the international community,” Amb. Delahousse indicated. He said the EU’s efforts would be in vain without the strong support and growing numbers of active organizations here in Liberia, stressing that “Women organizations are present on the ground and fighting daily for their rights.”

Also remarking, the chairman of the House committee on Human Rights at the House of Representatives, Roger S.W.Y Domah, said the committee will work closely with INCHR and others Human Rights Organizations in Liberia to ensure that every Liberian’s right is protected.

The Nimba County District #7 lawmaker also said the committee will work expeditiously with the Executive Branch of Government to ensure that INCHR and other commissions receive the necessary budgetary allocation in order to protect the right of the citizens.

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