LICHRD’s vision, Mission and Principles

The Liberia Coalition of Human rights defenders was organized on December 12, 1999 and registered by determined and committed human rights activists as an alternative voice against social injustice, human rights abuses and violations and as solidarities among defenders. 
Mission
The mission of the Liberia Coalition of Human rights defenders is to defend human rights defenders, build the capacities of national and local human rights defenders and institutions and hold solidarities of its member organizations.
Vision
A society where the rights of all human rights defenders regardless of sex, are protected by the state
Value
Transparency
Accountability
Open society
Collaboration
The LICHRD collaborates and networks with the below regional and global networks:
• West Africa human rights defenders networks
• Pan-Africa Human rights Defenders network
Executive secretary’s Message
The year 2012 was a year of rededication, recommitment and renewed vigor towards strengthening the cohesion among members of the coalition and actively engaging the Independent National commission on Human rights (INCHR) and
other major stakeholders in the promotion and protection of human rights and defending the human rights defenders.

During the year under review, the Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (LICHRD) undertook series of activities. Activities coalition undertook include: training, conferences, celebration of International Human Rights Day and other activities.

We also congratulate the government of Liberia for providing the level plain field for human rights institutions and pro-democracy groups to operate in the country without hindrances and security intimidation.

We also thanks the Rescue Alternative Liberia (RAL) for providing office space, equipments and stationery for the smooth and effective operation of the secretariat of the Liberia coalition of Human Rights Defenders (LICHRD).

As we passed through the year 2012, LICHRD is pleased to unearth some of the human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by community members, parents and guardians as well as government institutions.

We are also pleased to note that our members’ organizations have cooperated and are still cooperating with the national secretariat in making sure that the LICHRD gains national and international recogninition.

The year 2012 was basically a year of reorganization of the coalition, including the election of board members in September 2011 and the setting up of the national secretariat to run the day-to-day affairs of the coalition.
Thanks

Daniel H. Allison
Executive Secretary

Introduction
This annual report is an account of activities undertaken by the Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (LICHRD) during the year under review. The LICHRD which was dormant for some times gains its prominence through the effort of all member organizations. The year 2012, for LICHRD was a wakeup call for the coalition to get back on its feet to continue the work for which it was established in December 1999, after a period of dormancy. Though the Liberian civil war has long being over and the grievous human rights violations witnessed during the period appear reduced, there still remains challenges as citizen’s rights violations continue to increasingly take different trends in the form of rape, detention without trial, economic injustice, state sponsored corruption and police brutality, etc.
During the year under review, LICHRD carried out series of activities ranging from awareness workshops, trainings, conferences and other activities as mentioned in the annual report. The year was also a year of challenges as the secretariat was busy on a daily basis to provide alternatives that could motivate member organizations to recommit themselves to the coalition.
With respects to the above mentioned statement, I am pleased to present to you LICHRD’s 2012 annual report which details activities undertaken during the period under review.
Activity
Setting up of LICHRD’s Secretariat
The Board of Directors of the Liberia coalition of human rights defenders had set up a secretariat to run the day-to-day affairs of the coalition and coordinate the activities of member organizations. Staff of the secretariat includes Executive Secretary, Program officer, finance Officer and Women desk coordinator.
The rescue Alternative Liberia (RAL), as a chairman of the Board of Directors, provided an office space to the secretariat for the sooth and effective running of the coalition.
Membership Reactivation
The setting up of the secretariat was followed by the reactivation of membership. Under this exercise, the secretariat created a data based system to keep track of its member organizations. A general meeting schedule was prepared by the secretariat and disseminated to all member organizations to be used as a guide to attend all called meetings which slated for second and last Friday of every month.
First UPR Training
The First training workshop on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was organized by the Rescue Alternative Liberia (RAL) in May, 2012 in Monrovia. The workshop brought together 30 member organizations of the coalition and educated them on the importance of the UPR and the implementation of the recommendations accepted by Liberia. It was facilitated by the Executive Director of the Rescue Alternative Liberia (RAL), Mr. Jarwlee Tweh Geegbe. Some of the information the facilitator mentioned include the following:
Before:
 Government of Liberia must consult Civil Society Organizations before preparation of report
 Civil Society Organizations prepares its own report
 Coalition report is 10-page
 Individual report is 5 -page
 47 persons make recommendations
During
 visit, contact your partners that you want to have parallel discussion before session begins

Mano River Union Human Rights Defenders Conference
The International Service for Human rights in collaboration with the West Africa Human Rights Defenders Networks and the held a 4-day regional conference on the implementation of the UPR’s recommendations. The conference brought to gather 30 participants representing Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia. At the end of the 4-day conference which took place from 9-12 July 2012, a resolution was prepared by conference participants to address the implementation of the UPR’s recommendations accepted by their respective countries.
One-day training workshop on the follow-up of the UPR

The Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defender (LICHRD) on September 7, 2012, organized and conducted a one day training workshop on the follow-up of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The workshop was also a follow-up to the just ended Mano River Union Defenders training workshop which was organized by the International Center for Human Rights and held in Monrovia.

The LICHRD’s workshop was intended to build the capacity of member institutions in creating more awareness around the UPR process in Liberia. It brought together at least 40 participants representing member institutions and facilitated by the coalition members who participated in the just ended Mano River Union Defenders training workshop. Topics discussed at the workshop included:
1. over view of the UPR
2. UPR Recommendations and status of Liberia
3. Strategy for engagement of the UPR recommendations and

First Freedom of Information Training
The 1 day working session, which brought together 24 participants representing the Defenders member institutions began with welcome remark by the Program Officer of the Liberia coalition of human Rights Defenders (LICHRD), Sam M. Nimely. In his remark, he first congratulated participants of the workshop for positively responding to the defenders’ invitation to participate in the training workshop. He then welcomes everyone to the workshop and cautioned participants to take the training very serious as they would be going into the communities to train residents and other people.

The remark was followed by self introduction by the participants. The purpose of the self introduction was for trainees to familiarize with each other names and the institutions they associate with.

After the self introduction, the facilitator from the Carter Center Liberia, Alphonsus Zeon presented his lecture through power point. In his presentation, he highlighted the following:

1. The value of (Freedom of Information) Access to Information:
Is a fundamental rights
Improves use of scarce resources
Promotes citizen participation
Is a tool in the fights against corruption, etc

2. Basic Principles and objectives of the Law:
Information is a fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of Liberia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the African Charter on Human and People’s rights
Freedom of Information is important for genuine democracy and good governance
Requests for information should be processed rapidly and fairly, without excessive fees or overly formal procedures, etc

With respect to who can request and receive information, Mr. Zeon said anyone can make a request. Under the FOI law, he stated that everyone has the right to request and receive information without having to give any reason or justification or have a “legal interest” in the information. He further revealed that all public agencies of the Government of Liberia are required to provide information under the FOI law. These agencies include but not limited to:
All branches and levels of government
Ministries
Departments
Bureaus
Autonomous agencies
Public corporation
Commissions
Committees & sub-committees of the Legislature
Boards
Military and paramilitary institutions
All other government bodies supported by public resources and funds

Regarding the kind of information to be requested, the facilitator said any information can be requested-written, printed, audio, visual or electronic form. This includes any document that has been produced, received, used, controlled and/or possessed by any government agency or private entity that provides public services or receives public funds. He said example of such information includes:
Information about any agency’s operation, such as its actions, budgets, and expenditures – how much was received, spent and on what
Agency policies
Agency decisions and basis of and justification for the decision
Statistical information
Administrative staff manual
Laws, codes, statues, and regulations

He went further to say that every public authority is required by the FOI law to create and maintain a user-friendly and widely accessible “publication scheme” that includes details information regarding its core functions, the nature of its activities and operations, and the types of documents/information it holds.

On how one obtains information without needing to file a request, he said the law requires that some information be available to the public without the need to file
a request for information. Information that is made available without the need for a request is considered to be “automatically published” or “proactively disclosed”
Information and public agencies are required to provide this information through a website or physical publication. These include:
Legislation
Existing policies, procedures, and rules
Budgets
Financial accounts
Materials contracts
Organizational charts
Procedures for appealing decisions of the authority or its officers
Other information that support the public’s ability to deal with and monitor the authority’s performance

The facilitator then named seven (7) steps for making a FOI request:

1. Decide the information you would like to receive and come up with as details a description as you can for the records or documents
2. Identify which authority/entity holds the information you want
3. Check to see if the information has been automatically published. If it is already available, you can ask the agency where to find it without the need for a request
4. Prepare the request for information
5. Mail, email, phone, or deliver your request in person
6. Make a note on your calendar of the day you file the request the (30) day deadline for the agency to provide you within (30) days, you can ask for an internal appeal

Finally, the facilitator said other civil society organizations in Liberia made requests to a number of agencies and ministries with some responded and others did not. His presentation was followed by questions and answers, and closing remark by the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Coalition of human rights defenders (LICHRD), Jarwlee Tweh Geegbe. He thanks the Carter Center for the opportunity afforded the LICHRD and its member organizations, and asked the participants to utilize the skills acquired
3.4 International Human Rights Day Celebration
The Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in collaboration with the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), the Ministry of Gender and Development and the United Nations mission to Liberia (UNMIL) celebrated international human rights day on December 10, 2012, in Monrovia. The official celebration of the day was climaxed by the holding of Liberia’s first national human rights book fair which was held from December 4-5, 2012, in Monrovia. The celebration of the day brought together CSOs, students, government officials representatives of foreign missions and ordinary citizens. At the occasion, the Secretary General’s message was read by commissioner Ruby Morris Johnson. Among other things the UN Secretary General paid tribute to human rights defenders all around the world who work tirelessly just to promote and protect human rights. He said human rights defenders are detained and prosecuted in many countries due to their advocacy and stands against human rights abuses and violations. He finally stressed the need for the promotion and protection of people’s economic, social and political rights throughout the world.

The Secretary General’s message was preceded by a selection done by Miatta Fahnbulleh. Before singing her song, she said we are living in a sick society and our children who are custodians of our culture are been abused and raped.

Keynote Speaker’s presentation
The guest speaker for the day, Dr. Carl Lewis, a blind surgeon said he was honored to be invited as the guest speaker. The keynote speaker, who said he was not making a political statement, stated that disabled people are discriminated against, and that he as a blind person, was denied teaching job by the authorities at the state owned University (University of Liberia) despite his qualification. He went further to say that he lost his sight in 2006, but he has a vision that is why he still pursued his master in the United States of America in the same condition. He told the audience that vision is better than sight. He made a parable that “all fingers are not equal, but each one has a function”.

Furthermore, Dr. Lewis said the civil crises which took away more lives, was characterized by rape. According to him, rape was used as a weapon throughout the 15 years civil war which of course damaged our young boys and girls. He frowns on the compromise of rape cases by parents and called on authorities to arrest and prosecute those involve. Finally, he said he advocated and will continue to advocate against sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia.

Closing Remarks
Under this exercise, representatives of the following institutions expressed their wiliness to support the effort of the Independent National commission on Human Rights and the civil society organizations in making sure that we all break the silence on child rape in Liberia:
1. U. S. Embassy
2. European Union Delegation
3. UNMIL
4. U.N. Agencies
5. OSIWA
6. Ministry of justice Human Rights Section
7. Ministries & Agencies
8. National Civil Society Council of Liberia
9. Legislature

Vote of thanks
The vote of thanks was done by Commissioner Boakai Dukuly of the Independent National Commission on human Rights (INCHR). He congratulated all those who turned out to grace the occasion, and said that the INCHR will continue to collaborate with these institutions and individuals who made the program a success. At the same time, commissioner Dukuly officially launched the “Break the Silence on Child Rape in Liberia” project.

Observation
During the planning and execution of the program, the following were observed:
1. Constant meetings at the INCHR played a major role
2. Cooperation between the INCHR and the CSOs contributed to the successful hosting of the program
3. The Book Fair organized by the Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders motivated people to turn out
4. The openness exhibited by the INCHR motivated CSO members to perform very well
5. Battu Jamawai of UNMIL served as a cornerstone for the entire program
6. Early distribution of letters to guests by the INCHR saw the presence of almost all the international guests expected
Recommendations
We wish to make the following 6 count recommendations:
1. That the INCHR and the CSOs constantly meet to discuss and plan activities to be implemented.
2. That the INCHR maintains its cooperation with the CSOs
3. That the Book Fair should be held annually
4. That the INCHR should open all its doors to the CSOs for productivity
5. That Madam Battu Jamawai be considered as consultant to guide us in all our activities
6. That early preparation is done next year for the hosting of International Human Rights Day as was done this year.

Challenges

The Liberia Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (LICHRD) has the following challenges:

1. Lack of funding to implement the group’s activities
2. Building the capacities of individual member organization
3. Keeping the website updated

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