By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr  

The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is currently holding series of   citizens’ engagement capacity building sessions in Rivercess County as part of effort to maintain the peace and implement one of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission recommendation (Palava Hut Talks) and River Cess County Peace Plan (2018-2023) in Liberia.

The engagement is being conducted by the UNDP through its Peace building, Reconciliation and Social Cohesion Project.

INCHR outreach team, on Monday, May 4, 2021, began one of three citizens’ engagement trainings bringing together District Palava Hut Committees (DPHCs) in Cestos City along with some influential leaders, while the note-takers, interpreters, Awareness Providers, selected CSOs and local, traditional and community stakeholders are expected on the 7th and 10th of May.

At the end of the three separate citizens’ engagement trainings, these various actors will be prepared to effectively perform their respective roles by joining efforts with INCHR outreach team to hold Palava Hut Hearing discussion for the Kwa ethnic group in River Cess County in Central C District with awareness provision and statement taking in May & June while the hearing is from July 13-20, 2021 to build up mechanisms to expand and integrate into the governance structure at the national and subnational levels. The process will put a premium on gender-inclusivity, said Madam Dorothea Williams, Program Officer of INCHR during her presentation of the overview of the Ethnographic studies of traditional palava hut system in Cestos on Monday, May 4, 2021.

Generally, the success of the citizens’ engagement squarely hinges on the defined nature and scrupulous implementation of the roles and responsibilities of the direct beneficiaries by gaining deeper insight into the goal, process, safety and benefits of the Palava Hut system.

Meanwhile, Atty. Urias Teh Pour, Director- DLATML of INCHR facilitating on Alternative Dispute Resolution noted, participants will also benefit knowledge and skills in the conduct of the hearings and providing public awareness as a post-conflict reconciliation mechanism; acquire skills in Note Taking that involves the interviewing of victims and perpetrators, some of whom are traumatized, and will further learn interpretation skills. Moreover, the participants, especially those responsible for awareness/outreach and note taking, will receive basic knowledge in conflict sensitivity to guide them in engaging victims and perpetrators so that they do not raise unrealistic public expectations or engage in acts with the potential to reignite conflict at the detriment of the goals of the Palava Hut and of the reconciliation process at large.

The training comprises of 18 participants at each session including, 2 External Facilitators (Peace-building Expert Mr. Edward Mulbah of the MIA/PBO and Psychosocial Counselor Jennet Paye),  4  INCHR Facilitators (Transitional Justice Expert Joseph Blamiyon and Communication Expert David Dahn), DPHC members, Note Takers, Interpreters, Supervisors, Awareness Creators & INCHR Support Staff  from Montserrado and Rivercess   Counties to support the preparation for the conduct of the palava hut hearing in targeted communities (Neezuin, Barkey, , Garpue and Saryah) in one district.

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