Monrovia- As the fight against sexual and gender based violence continues in Liberia, a local women group under the banner; Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH) has begun donating various items to the Domestic Violence Law at various courts in ten communities within their project area.
Some of the areas are; The Paynesville Magisterial court, WestPoint Magisterial Court and Temple of Justice. Others are however expected to benefit from this gesture.
The National Trial Judges Association of Liberia is the first beneficiary of the ORWOCH donation. Seventy-five copies of the Domestic Violence Act were given the Association through its head Eva Morgan Mappy, Chief Judge of Commercial Court on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
Making the presentation to the Commercial Court today, February 4, 2021, Mmonbeydo N. Joah, ORWOCH Executive Director mentioned that the Act was printed with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC) for onward distribution to the magisterial court, prosecutors, trial judges and SGBV coordinators across the country.
Joah, an attorney at law, saw the need for those beneficiaries to have access to the Domestic Violence law so as to enable implement from an informed background.
She said, “I know most of my colleagues think that public awareness and education is necessary, but lawyers being eyes of the law, need to have understanding of the domestic violence law if it must be implemented.”
Joah said, “Most of the magisterial court judges have not even heard about the law and they are the first court of instance that received most women and children that are directly affected. So, if they are not educated about the law, they will not be able to give them justice.”
She said while it is good to educate the public about the law, it is important and also necessary to create awareness among judges and legal actors for proper implementation.
The Domestic violence Law which seeks to address or amend section 16 of the penal code of Liberia, was passed into law 2019 by President George Weah. Discussion about this law commenced in late 2017, which also led to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issuing executive order 92, that brought the act into effect.
Speaking on the Act, Madam Joah said the law talks about persistent non-support, economic and physiological abuses among other offense against women and children.
She said the act that was signed into law by President Weah covers session 16 of the penal code that addresses most of those laws that are missing; adding that, “what so ever that is not written, is not a crime. That is why the domestic violence law is important.”
“Most of what women suffered are abuses, but we often overlook them because we do not take it as it should be so as we submitted those copy of the law today, we hope many partners can come in and support the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia; to enable the law to have more force when it comes to the implementation,” Joah said.
She added under ORWOCH Empowering Women, Girls, Men and Boys (ENOUGH), the project, the institution will monitor how the court implements the Dogmatic Violence Law to inform stakeholders.
Upon receiving the items, Eva Morgan Mappy, Chief Judge of the Commercial court thanked ORWOCH for the donation, stressing the importance of legal actors having access to the Domestic Violence Law that was newly enacted into law.
Judge Mappy said copies of the law will be distributed to the court of the first instance (magisterial courts) that served as the face of the justice system across Liberia.