The Government of Liberia and the European Union or EU have reinforced political relations.
At the just-ended Third EU-Liberia Political Dialogue held in Monrovia, Liberia and the EU acknowledged that the drawdown of UNMIL represents an important milestone.
According to a joint-press release issued in Monrovia, the Liberian Government recognized the need to abide by the relevant Security Council Resolutions 2190 and 2215 to accelerate the security sector reform and to ensure adequate funding, firstly from the national budget, particularly for the Liberian National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. The release said the government has formulated plans transcending UNMIL’s drawdown to include strategies for consolidating long-term peace and stability.
The Government further informed the dialogue about gaps in the face of the drawdown, including capacity, infrastructure, service delivery, as well as sound management system, among others. The release indicated that transition was expected to be carried out in a way that avoids security gaps, noting that in this context, the EU encourages Liberia to adopt legislations such as the Police Act to ensure merit-based recruitment and promotion, the BIN Act and the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act.
The EU assured that it stands side by side with Liberia in the transition, adding that the State-Building Contract, under the 11th programming cycle (2014-2020) of the European Development Fund (EDF), will focus on security and justice in the next fiscal year.
According to release, the main objectives of the Contract are maintaining a secure and safe environment during and after UNMIL drawdown and increasing public confidence in the justice system and rule of law. The release said particular attention is paid to respect for human rights and dignity, especially of women and children.
It noted that the EU was also committed to support the AU and ECOWAS peace and security agendas.
At the end of the dialogue, Liberia and the EU agreed that the lessons-learned exercise recently conducted, was useful to prepare for the next polls- the possible Referendum for a Constitutional Review and the 2017 Presidential elections.
The joint GOL-EU indicated that the EU was a key partner to Liberia on elections and it stands ready to support the next electoral cycle with technical support from 11th EDF funds and political dialogue.
Commenting, the National Elections Commission, which also participated in the dialogue, asserted that there was an urgent need to consolidate and build upon gains made from previous elections with specific attention on staff capacity, enhancing gender sensitization and conflict preventative work with political parties and security forces, among other priorities.
On the issue of Human Rights, the EU noted that the report prepared by Liberia to the UN Human Rights Council will considered on 5 May 2015 through the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. The EU recognizes the progress made by Liberia, encouraging the Government to provide the necessary means to the Independent National Human Rights Commission to fully deliver on its mandate to implement the National action plan on Human Rights.
It also encouraged the Government of Liberia to implement fully the Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peace-building and Reconciliation (the Reconciliation Roadmap), as well as to make progress on of important human rights issues, such as the abolition of the death penalty, the reduction of gender and sexual based violence, and enhanced access to justice. “Government of Liberia is having a series of consultations with relevant stakeholders aimed at pushing for amendments to abolishing the death penalty, whilst taking into consideration its social context and judicial ramifications,” the release noted.
Regarding the issuance of Schengen Visas in Liberia, the Government of Liberia called on the EU to help alleviate the constraints Liberians face in acquiring the Schengen visas for travel to the EU, further indicating that the issuance of visas depended on member states of the European Union and that, under the current regulations, it was up to one member state of the Schengen group to undertake this activity.
The release quoted the Irish Government as indicating that it has begun accepting visa application at its Irish Aid’s Office in Monrovia for Liberians wishing to travel to Ireland.