-call for proper scrutiny
It was an embarrassing situation for local NGOs operating under the banner Liberia NGOs Network or LINK when its much-anticipated resolution was rejected by the leadership of the council of chiefs and elders. LINK had gone in five of the 15 counties of Liberia, soliciting citizens’ views on issues of sexual and gender-based violence, and other harmful practices across the country.
Following completion of their engagement in five counties LINK returned to Monrovia with a resolution to be signed between the Liberia National Police, and the council of chiefs and elders.
But unfortunately for them, their expectation regarding the signing of the resolution was dashed, as the head of the chiefs and elders refused to sign on grounds that the document isn’t complete and needs to be scrutinized properly.
Chief Zanzan Karwah, making remarks Thursday, June 17, 2021, at the Paynesville City Hall in Paynesville just before the official signing of the resolution between the Traditional Council of Chief’s and Elders and Liberia National Police to campaign against violence against women and girls in Liberia, said he couldn’t sign because the document fails to solicit a full response from citizens in all 15 counties.
“As head of the Chiefs and Elders we appreciate the work done by LINK, but we can’t sign this document, leaving out the views of the other counties”, Chief Karwah argues.
“If we must sign this document alone with the police, then this organization must do due diligence by visiting the rest of the counties, because for police to do arrest in our villages they must ask chiefs and elders.”
However, LINK says the project which is being implemented, is sponsored by the European Union/ United Nations Spotlight Initiative through the UN Office of High Commission on Human Rights.
LNP Commissioner for Public Affairs and spokesperson, Moses Carter notes that it was a tough time going into counties working along with LINK to solicit citizens’ views on sexual and gender-based violence issues.
He says though it wasn’t easy but applauded the local NGOs for their efforts in getting citizens’ views saying, “We have listened to our chiefs and elders, they have spoken, and I think their decision is meant for LINK to carry on proper scrutiny as it relates to signing their resolutions.
According to him, the organization shouldn’t look at only the signing aspect, but implementation is something that needs to be taken into consideration, and this is where chiefs and elders are concerned.
Inspector Carter said the Police remain committed to signing the document in the soonest possible time.
Giving an overview of the project, LINK national chairman, Stephen B. Norman, says the formation of the Liberia NGOs Network came from the EU and UNDP in 2013 adding that it was never a mistake for his organization to be awarded the UN project.
“Today is a day to remember in my administration as the fourth national chairman of LINK”, Mr. Norman notes.
He explains LINK was awarded a grant after campaigning against violence against women and girls, noting that the program was taken to five counties.
He names the counties as Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh, adding, the spotlight has built the capacity of many national NGOs and CSOs with about 150 organizations benefiting.
Norman further explains the strategy he used in making the program successful was that he brought on board the Police and traditional leaders. “We felt that there was a gap when it comes to sexual gender base violence or SGBV, and Female Genital Mutilation or FGM and both the Police and the traditional leaders have a significant role to play.”
The ceremony brought together participants from both government and the private sector, including traditional leaders. By Lewis S. Teh