-For Rekindling Community, Police, Magistrates Relationship
Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL), a local human rights organization in Liberia has been impressively extolled by cross sections of citizens, security officers and judges in Nimba County for rekindling their relationship perceived to be broken since the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Rescue Alternatives Liberia, the local NGO has over the years been providing alternatives to enhancing human rights, rule of law, peace and democracy building and victim’s recovery.
The organization is currently implementing a project called ‘Community Policing Initiative, A Prisoner’s Rights and Police Reform in collaboration with the Liberia National Police (LNP) aim at uniting community, police and judges with a pledge: “my police, my respect, my support; while Police Officers are saying: my community, my police, my employers, my strength.
During one of the forums in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, the exuberance citizens, police officers and magistrate extolled RAL for such forum that can bring the security officers, the judges and citizens together in fighting crimes and reducing pretrial detentions in the county.
The forum at the Sustainable Actions for Youth Development (SAYD) hall in Sanniquellie City, Nimba County was well-attended by 11 police officers, market women, high school students, human right activists, magistrates, community leaders among others.
At the interactive forum, all of the participants expressed their disappointments and vowed to work together in making the community, country safe for all and work toward reducing pretrial detention and overcrowdiness at prison centers.
Serving as one of the facilitators, the Deputy Nimba County Police Commander, Supt. Foster F. Varney called on the citizens to respect and trust the police officers because they are trained in accordance with international standards and as such, they are all professionals.
Officer Varney who drilled the participants through the roles of the police lamented that the entire county has only one pickup for patrol which is serving as serious impediment to their work.
He however assured the well assembled citizens that they will continue to work in their interest despite these challenges confronting their operations
“We really need your assistance in fighting crimes, in making the communities peaceful and please help us community leaders. Don’t hide criminals, drug dealers etc. Don’t obstruct the work of the police in making arrest. Investigation doesn’t mean detention. We will continue to do routine patrols in the county, communities, create awareness and please report all threats,” Officer Varney said.
Also serving as one of the facilitators, Magistrate Julius S. Brown called on the participants to always have proof of their cases through evidences, witnesses, among others or else; it may be difficult in winning their cases.
“The prison center was built for 75 persons, but today we have over 300 prisoners. For us Magistrates, we have time to hear cases which is within ten to fifteen days. More than those days without evidences, the detainee will be released for failure to provide evidence. This will help decongest the prison facilities,” Magistrate Brown said.
At the end of their presentations, they had frank interactions with the participants as they clear their chests of some issues they have and they ironed them out by congratulated each other and thanked RAL for such forum.
At the same time, Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL), Program Coordinator Sam Nimely has pledged the unflinching supports of his organization in ensuring the community, police and judges have harmonious relationship in the interest of the country. The forum is in ten of the 15 counties of Liberia and hope to extent to the rest.