Finn Church Aid (FCA) has provided prisons with desk phones in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties in Liberia and trained 90 community, religious and traditional representatives on access to justices.
The phones promote the rights of inmates, enhances their access to lawyers and enables them to contact their families free-of-charge.
“These phones bring relief to us, as we often lend our personal phones to inmates to contact their families”, noted the Bong County Superintendent Bendu Kollie.
Presenting the phones to prison superintendents in the three counties, the implementing partners Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) and Rural Human Rights Activists Programme (RHRAP) and FCA representatives stressed the need for prison officials to ensure that inmates have adequate access to the phones in order to contact their lawyers and families. AFELL will continue to provide legal representations for prolong pre-trial detainees. The organisations also admonished prison authorities to maintain call log for inmates.
“Legal representation for prolong pre-detainees and their subsequent release will help to reduce over crowdedness of prison facilities”, said UNMIL Prison Supervisor in Lofa, Henry Tambabe.
RHRAP and AFELL, in collaboration with FCA, conducted trainings on access to justice for 90 community leaders and religious and traditional representatives in Bong, Nimba and Lofa.
The trainings, facilitated by legal practitioners including stipendiary magistrates, focused
on access to justice such as criminal justice, rights of pre-trial detainees, role of the police, courts and corrections as well as sexual and gender-based violence with emphasis on the Rape Law.
Some of the participants asserted that the training enlightened them about their basic rights under the law, and allowed them to raise questions with magistrates and defence counsels on issues that confront them in their communities.
The training sessions ended with mobilising county stakeholders and re-establishing county level coordination dialogue on human rights and rule of law with county level meetings taking place and attended by the police, corrections officers, religious and community representatives as well as court officers and civil society organisations working on human rights.
The project “Providing Access to Justice and Gender Sensitive Legal Awareness at Grassroots Level” contributes to enhance the rule of law and the respect of the fundamental human rights of the most vulnerable prisoners in Liberia, most often women and youth.
The project is implemented in Lofa, Bong and Nimba counties in Liberia in 2017–2018. It’s funded by the European Union – The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).