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