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Liberia urged to implement Geneva Conventions

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Liberia has been urged to implement Geneva Conventions, including the Kampala Convention and the Arms Trade Treaty to build a good image of the country internationally.

During a stakeholder meeting in Monrovia Thursday, 6 December, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs and Chair of the Liberia International Humanitarian Law Committee (LIHLC) Cllr. Deweh Gray said while the Geneva Conventions are laws of war, one cannot tell when there would be war.

She suggests while the country is in peace now, it is always good to have these legislations to be part of national legislations for their usages in time of need.

According to Cllr. Gray, having done the stakeholder validation and review of these three instruments, they are being proposed for the Legislature to pass them hopefully in 2019 when lawmakers return from recess.

Mr. Marvin M. Sarkor, Chairman of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) says applauds the close working relationship of stakeholders aimed at making sure that the Legislature acts on issue of national concern.

In particular reference to the domestication of the Arms Trade Treaty, the Geneva and Kampala Conventions, Mr. Sarkor says are very significant to Liberia, having underscored the negative impact small arms have on Liberia.

He urges that Liberia implements these instruments and not sit back as a nation after crafting, domesticating (localizing in the context of Liberia) and legislating the documents.

Law Reform Commission Chair and LIHLC Co-chair Cllr. Boakai Fofana notes that the conventions have been signed and ratified by Liberia, but what they are doing now is about domesticating them.

He says they anticipate that when the Legislature resumes work in 2019, the conventions will be tabled before lawmakers for their action.

Earlier giving the overview on compliance of the Kampala Convention, the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) Legal Consultant Atty. Kojo Ross says domesticating the law means localizing it in the context of Liberia.

He says the Kampala Convention, which is also known as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Law of Liberia is a treaty of the African Union that was adopted in October 2009 in Kampala, Uganda, where it got its name “Kampala Convention” from.

According to him, the document addresses the issue of displacement, mainly internal displacement caused by three different aspects.

He cites armed conflict, natural disasters and life skill development projects in Africa as the three factors causing displacement.

Atty. Ross explains that the Convention wants government and state party to do everything possible to prevent displacement, which requires early warnings and relocation of people from areas affected by disaster.

When disasters occurs, he says the Convention talks about protecting and assisting people that are displaced; and bringing displacement to an end.

Senator Peter Coleman has pledged his commitment to the effort, saying all that is needed to be done now is lobbying with the leadership of the Senate and the House Representatives so that the instruments are passed.

“I think once a country complies with many of these international conventions … it gives our country additional respect, our image abroad,” he says.

Dr. Coleman says he thinks this is something that is very worthy, thanking the ICRC for this level of collaboration.ICRC head of officer in Liberia Mr. Charles Kpan says by drafting these three laws, it shows that Liberia is part of the international community in adhering to compliance in line with domestication and implementation.

The African Union and ECOWAS have expressed their support, particularly explaining how they have encouraged member states to go through the process of ratifying and domesticating provisions of these instruments.

By Winston W. Parley

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