Detainees, Correction Officers At Risk

-As RAL Alarms; Says Prisons Lack Ebola Prevention Materials.


Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) says it attention has been drawn to the appalling situation in these difficult times with the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation which is responsible to provide services to inmates throughout the country.

According to the civil society group, the lives of detainees, and Correction Officers who interact with both detainees or prisoners and visitors on a daily bases are at risks as detention centers, especially the Monrovia Central Prison currently lacked basic Ebola prevention materials to stop the spread of the virus in the prisons.

This, RAL noted was seen at the Monrovia Central Prison where corrections officers who are contending with over 900 inmates have no protective equipments and logistical support.
In a statement addressed to the Ministry of Justice and the Ebola Task Force dated on August 26, 2014, the group also said the MCP lacks testing gears to test those detainees who are set free before getting into the communities and at the same time, testing incoming inmates before joining their colleagues.

“The unbearable condition in the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP) poses high risks on the lives of both correction officers and inmates as government is doing little or nothing to find remedy to the ugly situation,” RAL said.

The Rescue Alternatives Liberia underscored the need for an effective way of preventing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in prisons, stressing the need for the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation to be included on the Ebola Task Force committee in order to effectively respond to any Ebola case in prison centers in the country.

The human rights group called on the Ministry of Justice and Ebola Task Force to establish testing centers in prison centers in order to reduce the spread of any outbreak of the virus in the country’s prison sector and provide logistical support for correction officers.

RAL is of the philosophy that any outbreak of Ebola in the prisons will pose uncontrollable increase of deaths of prisons workers, prisoners and community residents and unlash hardened criminals in the society, meaning increase in crimes in Monrovia and its environs.

RAL is an anti-torture, prison reform and death penalty abolition campaigner, a member of several national and international networks including the Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (LICHRD), West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN), and International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) and World Coalition against the Death Penalty (WCADP), among others.

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RAL Gets NED’s Support for Rule of Law Reform in Liberia

NED Logo RAL Logo The Washington DC based National Endowment for Democracy has provided Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) with a one year grant to “Promote Rule of Law Reforms” in Liberia. The project is aimed to increase awareness on human rights violations in the penal system; advocate for prison reform; and strengthen trust between the community and the police in 3 counties – Ganta, Nimba; Gartala, Bong; and Monrovia, Montserrado Counties.

It is agreed that RAL will use renewed Endowment support to advocate for the fair treatment of prisoners in accordance with Liberian law and international standards that govern detention and due process of prisoners; raise awareness on prison violations using the media and by issuing regular press releases; and create and provide training for community policing forums and committees.

In close collaboration with local community-based organizations, RAL will monitor and document conditions in the detention facilities in Monrovia, Gbarnga and Ganta cities, through interviews with inmates and authorities. Additionally, monitors will document evidence and testimony of human rights abuses and police brutality against inmates. RAL’s observations and conclusions will be compiled into an annual human rights situation report, and will be communicated to relevant authorities for improvements.

Liberian prisons still suffer from overcrowding, deplorable health and sanitation, poorly trained staff, and diminishing resources. RAL will also continue its mediation services for inmates in the Monrovia facility, which will reduce the number of cases processed through the courts and help defendants that linger in pre-trial detention. RAL will publish an annual report on the criminal justice system, prisoners’ welfare, and cases of torture in Montserrado County.

In partnership with local authorities and community-based organizations in Bong, Nimba, and Monrovia counties, RAL will strengthen existing community policing committees where they exist and establish others to improve relationships between community residents and the police; hold and/or facilitate a quarterly community policing forums, bringing together over 50 residents and security personnel, to discuss methods for mutually beneficial collaboration around fighting crime and human rights abuses.

In the NED Board recent meeting awarded the 1-year grant to RAL covering 1 July 2014 – 30 June 2015. The NED grant was awarded in accordance with the authority contained in Public Law 98-164 (the NED Act) as amended and Grant Number S-LMAQM-14-GR-1008 (CFDA 19.345) between the United States Department of State and the National Endowment for Democracy.

It is expected that at the end of the project one year duration, the following will be achieved:
» Law enforcement and correction officers will demonstrate a clear understanding of prisoners’ human rights in the handling of inmates as required by law;
» At least 75 cases are mediated which results in fewer defendants in pre-trail detention and reduces prison overcrowding for non-criminal cases;
» Through its publication and press statements, prison reform, prisoners’ rights, criminal proceedings and police behavior are brought to the attention of the authorities and are addressed by the government; and
» Community-Policing Committee members demonstrate a clear understanding of their roles and provide direction for improving rapport between residents and the police on crimes and human rights violations.

Since 2003, NED has being supporting RAL in its work of advocating and creating awareness for the respect rights of prisoners, reporting violations in detention, reform in the rule of law in Liberia. With the NED and other donors and partners’ supports, RAL has come to impact the rule of law landscape of Liberia.

For further information and follow-up on the grant and implementation, you can contact:

Amanda Vragovich, Africa Program Officer
National Endowment for Democracy (NED)
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +1-202-378-9664

Sam M. Nimely, Program Coordinator
Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL)
Email: [email protected]
Mobile #: +231-77-710-4823

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RAL On Anti-torture Awareness

-Join Over 130 Int’l Advocacy Groups

The Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL), a member center of the Global International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) has joined over 139 torture rehabilitation and prevention organizations on raising awareness on the abolition of torture in Liberia.
The RAL’s one day awareness exercise was held yesterday June 26, 2014 in central Monrovia reaching out to almost every main street telling people about the effect of torture on individuals, families, communities and societies and how it can be abolished in Liberia.
On June 26 each year, a network of over 139 torture rehabilitation and prevention organizations including the Rescue Alternatives l Liberia raise awareness on the abolition of torture.
One hundred and thirty countries which formed part of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims on June 26, 2014 observed the day and raised awareness on the effects of torture on individuals, families, communities and societies and finding remedy to put an to such practice.
Speaking at the official program marking the activities in commemoration of International Day in Support of victims of torture, the Program Coordinator of RAL reemphasized the need for members of the National Legislature to consider the passage of the Anti-torture Bill that was submitted to that august few years ago.
The Rescue Alternatives Liberia executive disclosed that said bill was submitted to the country’s lawmakers in 2011, but according to him, members of the Legislature are yet to pass the Anti-torture bill currently before them.
At the same time, he used the occasion to call on security personnel throughout the country to stop using torture as a means of attracting information from people during investigation.
Also speaking at the program, the Political Officer at the Embassy of the United States of America in Liberia, Madam Kareina Brazenor said torture is not a good thing and the government of the United States of America is against said practice.
She noted that people have been victims of torture and added that said thing (torture) in any case, in any country and for any reason is not an acceptable means of doing anything.
She then praised the Rescue Alternatives Liberia for creating awareness on torture in the country, stressing that torture is wrong and that the Government of Liberia through the National Legislature pass the Anti-torture Bill submitted by RAL.
In his message in commemoration of International Day in Support of victims of Torture, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Ben Ki-Moon urged states that have not yet done so to ratify the Convention against Torture.
According to the UN Secretary General, June 26, 2014 marked 30 years since its adoption, adding that as the world honor the victims on torture, the UN body pledged to strengthen its efforts to eradicate what he calls heinous (Torture) practice.
RAL is an anti-torture, prison reform and death penalty abolition campaigner and member of several national and international networks including the Liberia Coalition of Human rights Defenders (LICHRD), West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network among others.

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AU Opposes Death Penalty


The African Union (AU), formerly the Organization of African Unity (OAU), has instructed member-States of the union to put an end to death penalty.
However, the African Union did not mention any name of a member-Country where death penalty is accepted by the government.
Several human rights organizations, stakeholders from member-states including the Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) are expected to join the commission to raise awareness.
In a communication addressed to the Rescue Alternatives Liberia dated May 9, 2014, the Secretary to the commission Dr. Mary Maboreke said the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Benin is expected host a continental conference on Death Penalty from July 2-4, 2014 in Cotonou, Benin.

During the conference, the Rescue Alternatives Liberia and other human rights organizations, stakeholders, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights are expected to brainstorm and create awareness among African Union Member States and other stakeholders on the issue of the death penalty and the need for the AU to adopt an African Protocol on the abolition of the death penalty.
The conference which is expected to center around four main objectives will discuss building the capacities of stakeholders to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty and adoption of an African Protocol on the abolition of the death penalty.

According to the conference, the provision of a platform for participants to develop or come up with advocacy strategies at country and regional levels in this respect and encourage Member States to vote in favor of the proposed United Nations General Assembly Resolution to be adopted this year regarding a moratorium on the death penalty and also to enhance its implementation in African countries.
It can be recalled that a conference on the abolition of the Death Penalty and Moratorium of Capital Executions was held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 13-14 January 2014 at the invitation of the Attorney General of Sierra Leone and Hands Off Cain.

In the 2014 Freetown Conference final Declaration, delegates and participants urged African States to ratify Human Rights Instruments that prohibit the death penalty, namely the second optional protocol to the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights and align national legislation accordingly.
The Freetown final declaration also urged African States to work towards the definition of an Additional Protocol to the African Chapter on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa to give all AU member states, which have not yet abolished the death penalty a chance to adopt a binding instrument calling for the abolition of the death penalty.
Death Penalty, sometime called Capital Punishment, is the government’s murder of a person who had killed an unarmed or innocent person for any reason.

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RAL Supports Govt.’s Security Apparatus

-Trains Several Security Personnel-


In an effort in buttressing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s quest in building capacity of the country’s security apparatus through training to meet up with international best practices, the Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) has provided training for several security personnel.
Security Personnel who benefited from Rescue Alternatives Liberia’s one day training workshop held at the Gbarnga Regional Hub in Gbarnga, Bong County recently are Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation both of the Ministry of Justice.
At the opening of the training session which brought together over twenty five participants (Security Personnel), Mr. Sam Nimely who is the Program Coordinator of the Rescue Alternatives Liberia thanked officers of The Liberia National Police and the Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation for responding to RAL’s call.
He then encouraged the over twenty five security officers to take the one day training very serious, adding that said training will help build their capacity as they strive for better security knowledge.
Serving as one of the trainers during the day long training workshop, the Human Officer of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) challenged the officers to observe and up hold international best practices in policing.
Also speaking was the Superintendent of the Gbarnga Central Prison who spoke on the topic; ‘the Role of the prison authorities to prisoners.
At the end of the training, the participants thanked the Rescue Alternatives Liberia for the knowledge learnt and called on the RAL family to extend said training to other officers in some parts of the country.

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RAL On Government’s Back

__Wants Death Penalty Law Repealed__

The Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL) has called on the government to repeal the July 2008 law which allows death penalty in criminal cases, in contrast to the nation’s obligation under the second protocol of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is signed.

According to a release signed by the program coordinator of the RAL, Sam M. Nimely, the universal periodic review’s recommendations, accepted by Liberia, contained the repeal of the July 2008 law that allows the death penalty.

The release further called on the government to educate Liberians throughout the Country on International instruments signed and ratified, so that they become informed.

The release, dated March 10, 2014, further called on the government to do more in its fight against corruption, police use of excessive force against citizens, nepotism, favoritism and abuse of power by public officials.

The Rescue Alternatives Liberia called on the government to discourage the culture of impunity and challenged the government to pay more attention to improving prisons and detention facilities in deplorable and appalling conditions and cater to the basic needs of prisoners.

The group said prison centers in the country should be places of correction, to meet international standards, and not « Concentration Camps ».

Meanwhile, the Rescue Alternatives Liberia, a Civil Society forerunner of death penalty abolition, anti-torture and prison reform campaigner, observed its 20th anniversary in Monrovia.

According to the release, the observance of the day commenced on Sunday, March 9, 2014 with a thanksgiving service at the Bethel Sanctuary of Praise, Borough of Kru Town, Bushrod Island.

Over the years the human rights group has participated in several activities with other civil society organizations at home, Africa and other parts of the world, to enhance its capacity and share experience.

« RAL continues to be the advocacy group in the country’s criminal justice system reform, anti-torture and death penalty abolition and prison reform, since its establishment in 1994, with the aim of providing alternatives for torture survivors.

« The group also advocates for the decongestion of prisons and detention centers and educates community residents on the workings of the country’s criminal justice system, among others, » the release said.

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