The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) in collaboration with the Coalition of Caregiver and Advocates for Elderly in Liberia (COCAEL) has joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day for old folks in Monrovia.
The Acting Director for the department of legislative assistant treaty matters and law at the INCHR, Atty. Bowoulo T. Kelley says the day is celebrated October 1st each year as a result of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 45/106 adopted on December 14, 1990, after several initiatives, including the Vienna International Plan of action on aging.
Atty. Kelley stresses that older persons as a group are as diverse and varied as the rest of the population and their situation depends on a country’s economic and social status, demographic, environmental, cultural, and employment factors both on the individual and family levels, among others.
Speaking over the weekend, she pointed out that in Liberia, many old folks do not have adequate means of support and are prominent among the most vulnerable, marginalized, and unprotected groups.
She notes that in times of pandemics like the coronavirus and economic recessions, older persons are particularly at risk.
Atty. Kelley says there is a need for Liberia to ratify the Protocol of the African Charter on the rights of older persons and the passage of a Bill presently at the Legislature for the establishment of a national commission for the elderly to promote sustained advocacy, including implementation of laws and policies aimed at promoting the rights of older persons to institutionalize government support as a duty bearer to this vulnerable population.
Meanwhile, Montserrado County Electoral District#11 Representative Richard Koon, who champions the passage of the Bill before the House seeking the establishment of the proposed National Commission on Older Person said caring for elderly people through legislation is crucial for people who have made tremendous contributions to the growth and development of Liberia.
Representative Koon added that supporting elderly people through feeding, housing, and health care will go a long way to restoring dignity to people who have spent their youthfulness serving the country.
He reminded that every young person is a potential older person in the near future and if current elderly people are neglected or lack protection under the law to cater for them until their last day on earth, a similar fate could await the present generation.
He explained that more elderly people have been abandoned by their children, relatives, and friends in several communities across the nation.
The Chairperson of the INCHR, Cllr. Dempster Brown said it is shameful and disgraceful for Liberia to neglect the welfare of elderly people in the country.
Chairperson Brown also reminded that the protocol of the African Charter on the rights of older persons has not yet been signed by Liberia, the oldest independent nation in Africa, and called on Liberians to pray for the nation.
He stressed that the commission will speak for the rights of Liberians based on international protocols, conventions, and treaties that have already been signed by the government to ensure they are respected.
Cllr. Brown lamented that it is wrong to see elderly people begging for food in street corners and communities which indicates that Liberians do not love one another or the elderly.
In a related development, the Chairperson of COCAEL, Rev. Anna Kpan acknowledged the effort of two members of the House of Representatives for the enactment of the National Commission on Older Persons in Liberia.
Rev. Kpan said COCAEL prefers to honor Representatives Richard Koon of Montserrado County and Tibelrosa S. Tarpoweh of Margibi County respectively for their dedicated commitment to transforming the living conditions of elderly people in Liberia. Editing by Jonathan Browne