Representatives from the National Traditional Council of Liberia and civil society have endorsed a training manual that will increase access to justice at the grassroots, and reduce case backlog in the judiciary.
The manual, developed in close consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, and with support from the Joint UN Rule of Law, Justice and Security Programme, aligns with the norms and principles of human rights, especially with regard to women and children’s rights.
It will be used to train traditional leaders responsible for adjudicating disputes within communities and members of the civil society involved in administering justice.
“Traditional leaders shoulder a great responsibility in resolving disputes and administering justice at the community level in Liberia’s informal justice system. The manual provides a resource that will be used to build their knowledge on and understanding of the principles of the rule of law and human rights, and will go a long way in improving access and quality of justice delivered countrywide,” said Stephen Rodriquez, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Liberia.
Liberia’s informal justice system, governed by traditional rulers and guided by inherently gender-insensitive customary practices, enjoys more than twice as much public trust and confidence than the formal justice system and handles 80% of disputes in the country.
At a two-day validation of the manual 28-29 October, Rodriques emphasized the importance of both justice systems upholding the human rights and dignity of women and children.
“It is expected that the manual will enable traditional leaders to serve the public better, empower women by recognizing their rights, and contribute to the consolidation of peace and stability in Liberia by ensuring the satisfactory and transparent resolution of disputes.”
Given the pivotal role in administering justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs with support from the Joint UN Rule of Law, Justice, and Security program, commissioned the development of the training manual for actors in the informal justice system to equip them with the requisite knowledge and skills to be able to render justice in line with international best practices.
The Minister of Justice Counselor Musa Dean hailed the manual as “one of the best tools for training and empowering traditional authorities and justice actors in effective administration of justice for the Liberian people, especially the poor and vulnerable.”