Promoting the fundamental human rights of indigenous community residents
Promoting the fundamental human rights of indigenous community residents.
The Rural Human Rights Activists Programme (RHRAP) with funding from the Lush Charitable Pot is engaged in an education and advocacy program titled “Sustained Education and Advocacy Initiatives on the Impact of Gold Mining on Community Residents”. The program is an environmental education and advocacy initiatives that focused on exposing the danger and effects of cyanides on the lives of mining communities. From 2018 to current, using the Lush Charitable Pot grant support, RHRAP has worked with communities that are affected by mining being carried out by the Bea Mountains and MNG Gold Mines in Kinjor, Gola Konneh District, Grand Cape Mount County which continue to enhance the capacity of affected residents to apply safety practices in avoiding getting in contact with waters that are polluted as a result of mining. In addition, the program has and continue to empower residents to understand how to take on their own advocacy initiatives in the promotion and protection of their rights as indigenous communities. Using the knowledge and skills gained from the various capacity building training workshops, resident of Jekindor, Kinjor and their surrounding towns and villages that benefited from RHRAP Capacity building trainings are engaging the Bea Mountains, MNG Gold and national actors to address critical issues affecting residents as a result of the mining of that pollute the waters, land and destruction of their houses including religious building (Mosque) amongst others.
Through sustained engagements and advocacy, the government and the MNG Gold Mines have refurbished the only motorcar road leading to the most affected town (Jekandor) and the provision of safe drinking water. However, the relocation of town which is paramount to the residents due to the risks associated with the current living conditions in Jekandor, RHRAP is working with relevant stakeholders including lawmakers, and mining companies to address the relocation of the town that will bring relief to the residents. RHRAP and its funding partners will continue to enhance the capacity of affected communities to take on the defense of their fundamental human rights as required by national and international laws.
RHRAP Promoting Peaceful and Democratic Elections and Responsive Governance
As Liberia goes to the pool shortly in October 2023, there are several key factors from a broader perspective that needs to be considered. Firstly, the atmosphere is very gloomy and tensed given the instances of disinformation, violent clashes, & violence inciteful messages that are being committed by the ruling party and their auxiliaries, oppositions political parties and politicians. These are earlier warnings and key drivers to violent conflict placing fear in the minds of voters which may largely promote voter apathy, pre-and post-elections violence. Many people are getting discouraged to participate in the coming 2023 electoral processes which is not good for Liberia’s democratic process. Learning from the past Liberia’s bloody civil conflict, each Liberian regardless of status, tribe, political affiliation, sex, etc. is required to avoid violent conflict and promote peaceful engagements during and after the 2023 elections to maintain Liberia’s democratic system. From this backdrop, the Rural Human Rights Activists Programme (RHRAP) is currently engaged with several activities that seeks to promote peaceful elections and responsive governance intended to avert Liberia’s democracy from retrogressing. This project is being funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and implemented by the Rural Human Rights Activists Programme (RHRAP) which is headed by its Executive Director Lorma Baysah.
Centralised government model in Liberia has proven to offer low development trends over the past decades, with potential disadvantages on its citizenry. The developmental and governance trends have posed challenges on the distribution of funds accrued from natural resources and other basic social services to its citizens.
In 2012, a National Policy on Decentralisation and Local Governance was launched as a means of establishing a framework for effective and efficient service delivery at the subnational level to enhance participatory resource allocation and expense decision making processes. To also strengthen local planning, monitoring and management capacity. In 2013, the government of Liberia with support from the UNDP and other development partners, established the Liberia Decentralisation Support Program (LDSP) to serve as a vehicle for resource mobilisation and program support in making decentralisation a reality. In addition to the gains made was the establishment of the County Service Centers, the passage of the Local Government Act (LGA), amongst others.
However, more need to be done especially in creating the avenue for decentralized revenues collection, budgeting and expenditures that will involve the participation of local and subnational structures.
To this end, RHRAP project “Legislative Advocacy for the passage of the Revenue Sharing Bill” seeks to advocate and influence the National Legislature to pass the Revenue Sharing Bill into Law that will enable citizens to have access to revenue at local level which is in addition to the frantic efforts by the UNDP, National Government, and other Civil Society Organizations.
Education and awareness on the impacts of gold mining on communities
Due to the danger Cyanide poses on human and animal health, this project was designed to expose the dangers and effects of chemicals in the waste product of gold. Using this program, communities’ residents are gradually getting aware of the dangers and effects of working with chemical such as Cyanide (hydrocyanic acid) over a long period of time and are able to make informed decision for accepting such job understanding the “Price of Gold (effects and dangers of gold mining).” Besides, prior to the awareness raising, community residents were still using the water running down from the mountain for washing and cooking, planting agricultural products near the banks of the water, eating dead fish, crawfish from the waters.Because of the learning workshops on the dangers and effects of Gold Mining, community residents are now taking precaution of direct contact with such chemicals.
Capacity Building for Community Residents’ Representatives
To enhance community residents’ ability to contribute to the maintenance of the rule of law, fundamental human rights, that will enable them meaningfully to contribute to justice sectors accountability, RHRAP provides trainings and awareness to community residents including Traditional, Religious, Community Leaders, Youth, and Women Groups on how the Criminal Justice System works starting from arrest to court-detention-parole. This initiative is providing knowledge to community residents to hold justice sectors’ workers accountability on justice malpractices as well as change of attitudes to support the rule of law. It is gradually helping residents especially in rural communities to developed confidence in the court system despite the serious challenges facing Liberia’s justice system
Capacity BuildingTraining for Police and Correction Officers
Continues capacity building trainings are provided for Police and Correction Officers that enhanced their knowledge and skills in the application of human rights practices in policing and correction. We monitored the performances of these officers and host engagement meetings them to discuss our findings intended to promote the rule of law, and fundamental human rights of community residents. Continues follow-ups and monitoring exercises are being carryout and used findings for sustained education and advocacy for policy reforms.
Detainees Awareness Forum to uphold the Rights of Detainees
The need for legal counsel and supports, rights to communication with family and lawyers, the rights to requalification, and integrations into communities especially for the most vulnerable detainees, remains key to RHRAP education and advocacy intervention. RHRAP provides awareness education lectures to inmates on their rights to legal representation, to communicate with their families and lawyers amongst. the awareness has improved the understanding of their legal rights concerned with detention, information on access to pro bono legal supports, the rights to reintegration into communities, as well as improved living conditions in prisons, and rights to use phones provided by RHRAP and its partner SHED. The provision of the desk phones has established connection between detainees and their families, while the awareness is providing understanding between detainees and prison authorities thus easing fraction/tension in the prisons.
Some Partners and Donors
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