–SHED’s Access to Justice Project Releases Twenty-one Pre-Trial Detainees
Gbarnga, Bong County & Kakata, Margibi County- Since the project known as “Strengthening the Human Rights of Prisoners within Correctional Facilities and at Grassroots Level in Liberia” was launched in April 2019 at the Kakata Central Prison in Margibi County, a local NGO Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED) has been engaged in tackling some of the many challenges facing the justice system, particularly the Bureau of Correction & Rehabilitation (BCR).
Over the last two weeks, twenty-one (21) pre-trial detainees who spent several months at the Gbarnga and Kakata Central Prisons were released when charges against them were dismissed, as result of legal representation by lawyers from the legal aid component of the project through SHED who on behalf of the inmates argued that the State failed to speedily prosecute them in line with statute and the rights of the detainees.
SHED working through a team of lawyers from the Center for Legal Education, Human Rights and Peace Studies (CLEPHS) represented the detainees. The European Union funded this work through a project enhancing access to justice in Liberia, implemented by Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED) and Rural Human Rights Activists Program (RHRAP) in partnership with Finn Church Aid (FCA) in Finland.
In recent months, SHED, working together with CLEPHS, have activated fast-track courts in Bong and Margibi Counties where cases related to prolong pre-trial detention are now assigned and heard expeditiously.
In another development, SHED conducted three days training for conducted semi-digitalized training for record officers in Gbarnga, Bong County. The training brought together 8 record keepers/correction officers from Margibi and Bong counties. The training built their capacity and enhance their knowledge in records management, computer operations, setting-up of semi-digitalized records and database management/entries as well as international standards of correction in prisons.
The training was climaxed with the donation of two laptops to the BCR. Speaking at the closing ceremony, SHED Project Manager, Godo Kolubah indicated that the donation was made possible through the support of the European Union for the purpose of electronic archiving and record keeping. The Assistant Minister Eddie Tarawali, who received the donation on behalf of the BCR/Ministry of Justice, thanked SHED and the European Union for their continuous support to the BCR and promised to use it for its intended purpose. The Assistant Minister also used the occasion to call on Civil Society Organizations and SHED to advocate for Budgetary Autonomy of the BCR to enable them adequately address many of the challenges faced by the Bureau of Correction.
The project known as “Strengthening the Human Rights of Prisoners within Correctional Facilities and at Grassroots Level in Liberia” was launched in April 2019 at the Kakata Central Prison in Margibi County.
The objective of the project is to protect detainees whose rights are at risk of being violated through illegal arrests, prolonged detention, inhuman detention practices, sexual and gender-based violence and no access to legal counselling and representation. Prisoners’ rights are promoted by strengthening the capacities of justice actors and promoting adherence to national and international standards for prisoners. The project operates in Bong, Margibi, Lofa and Nimba counties in Liberia.