In the post-conflict transition, significant steps have been taken to combat sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Liberia. The Government of Liberia established a policy and legal framework that includes the Rape Law (2006), a National Gender Policy (2017), and a National Plan of Action for the Prevention and Management of Gender-Based Violence in Liberia. However, in 2017, over 1100 SGBV cases have been reported in Montserrado County alone, representing only a small proportion of the violations that occur. Furthermore, the number of cases that have progressed to court remains low.
Over a decade has passed since the end of conflict in Liberia, but the incidence of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has not diminished. The Liberian Government and the international community have focused on SGBV cases in response to urgent demands for improved judicial remedies to combat impunity, and a special court designated to deal exclusively with sexual offences was established in 2008. However, accountability and effectiveness of the court, as well as the number of successful sexual violence prosecutions, remain low. IDLO is working with Liberian and international partners to help combat and promote increased accountability for SGBV crimes.
The Republic of Liberia became an IDLO Member Party on 7 May 2019, joining a growing list of now 36 total members.
Over 50 women judges, representing chapters of the International Association of Women Judges across the African continent, convened to discuss the critical role and contribution women justice professionals play in adjudicating cases of gender-based violence at a regional conference in Nairobi from November 29 to December 1, 2018.
They expected things to be different.
In Liberia, the most prevalent form of trafficking in persons involves women and children being trafficked from rural to urban areas, with family members usually acting as independent traffickers. The National Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons has developed a five-year National Action Plan (2019 – 2023), with IDLO support, which shows the commitment and political will of the Liberian government to combat trafficking in persons.
As part of IDLO's project to increase accountability for sexual and gender-based crimes in Liberia, it is working to build the capacity of judges to effectively handle and dispose of sexual and gender-based violence cases.
Over a decade has passed since the end of conflict in Liberia, but incidence of sexual and gender-based violence has not diminished. Numerous studies reveal an extremely high prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence. According to an IDLO study, in 2015 1396 cases were reported to the Montserrado five one-stop clinics alone. Among those cases, 267 were reported to the Women’s and Children’s Protection Section within the Liberia National Police, 119 received an indictment, while only 3 cases went through to trial.
In the months following the launch of the Liberia National Police fund, an initiative for female police officers to undertake skills training, IDLO has been supporting professional development activities as part of the broader pursuit of access to justice in the country.
Teresa Mugadza, IDLO’s Country Director for Liberia. When I took up post in Monrovia last summer, what struck me most was that I found a committed and cooperative judiciary, but one handicapped by a lack of resources. Often, people erroneously think that Liberia has no legal framework, but that is not true.