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AFELL trains judges and magistrates on handling cases involving domestic violence

The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) has held a training workshop for judges and magistrates in various courtrooms aimed at curtailing the prevalence of domestic violence to provide adequate justice for victims of abuse.

AFELL one day workshop seeked to have judges, magistrates, and other Judicial workers acquainted with the Domestic Violence Act and its full Implementation across every sector of the Liberian Society.

In an opening remark at the training workshop that took place on Friday, October 6, 2023, in Monrovia, AFELL’s president, Philomena Williams, said domestic Violence is prevalent in Liberia and the survivors live daily with the abuse because of lack of justice, predicated on the fact that the courts relied on rarely make application of the law for relief to the survivors, while perpetrators believe it is the norm. 

Atty. Williams asserted that the training is focused on building the capacity of judges and magistrates on dispensing justice when it comes to the Domestic Violence Act, with more sensitivity to the dynamics of abuse or violence.

According to her, when it comes to responding to gender-based violence, the judges and magistrates as custodians of the law, play a key role along the way. “When cases of domestic violence are brought before the court, the judges or magistrates are to adjudicate in consonance with the Act, and apply the prescribed and appropriate reoccurrence of the Act,” she disclosed.

Atty. Williams added that the training is more about responding better to said cases, discussing necessary reforms of the law, and providing a decision to determine whether the penalty prescribed under the law is commensurate with the seriousness of the crime or not.

“We are confident that this training will enhance the competence of judicial actors, guarantee sound judicial decisions of our judges and magistrates, improve performance of our courts, and ensure an efficient justice system for victims/survivors,” she explained.

AFELL trusts that judges and magistrates will remain passionate about making a difference in society through making fair, impartial, and transparent decisions; noting, “You are key to fighting human rights abuses at the justice system in Liberia, this training will be conducted by high level legal luminaries aimed at ensuring the correct and effective application of the law.”

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The training was attended by over 20 judges and magistrates, Gender Based Violence survivors, and topnotch legal practitioner. It was facilitated by legal luminaries, including Liberia’s former Chief Justice, Frances Johnson Allison; Former Associate Justice, Felecia Coleman; and the head SGBV at the Ministry of Justice, Cllr. Isaac George.

The workshop was partnered by the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY), Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), and the Liberia Association of Psychosocial Services (LAPS).

In remarks, the participants described the training as a necessary one and prayed that AFELL achieves her goals and objectives along the way.

In tears, a victim of Sexual and Gender Based Violence explained her experience for over five years, since she got married to a perpetrator of domestic violence in 2018. The victim reported that she had been beaten on several occasions and maltreated by her husband without redress.

According to her, in efforts to find justice and security for her life against her husband, who has become a threat to her life, she went to the police and church many times, but there was little to no progress. The lady called on AFELL and her partners to help her in the process to have her out of the problem she is into and make sure that justice comes her way.    

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