Liberia Reaffirms Commitment to Human Rights

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Liberia’s Minister of Justice Counsellor Benedict Sannoh has reaffirmed the country’s commitment to uphold and protect basic human rights and freedoms, particularly the need to work with stakeholders to solve the problem of stateless people.

The Minister noted that in keeping with the country’s commitment and belief in fundamental human rights, Liberia was the first West African nation to accede to both the 1954 Convention relating to the status of stateless people and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of statelessness.

Minister Sannoh who is also Liberia’s Attorney General statement was contained in a speech he delivered on February 25 in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire during a Ministerial Conference on Stateless. 

He also recalled how Liberia was one of the first signatories to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights among other international treaties on human rights.

However, he noted that efforts by Liberia to domesticate most of these international treaties, the one on Statelessness   have been slow owing to various factors. He named, for example, the prolonged Liberian civil war as a major obstacle, as well as legal complexities.

He said notwithstanding the challenges, Liberia has made significant strives to meet its obligations under the convention on Statelessness, the statement said.

 “In this regard, the Republic of Liberia made two significant  pledges at the Ministerial meeting to commemorate the anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1961 Statelessness Convention held in Geneva in December 2012: (i) To amend our 1993 Refugee Act with the objective to “make it conform to international best practices, regional perspective and todays realities” and (ii) To amend the 1973 Alien and Nationality law to address the conflict between Article 20.1 of the Act and Article 28 of the 1986 Constitution regarding the nationality of children born outside Liberia with either parent of Liberia descent. We are pleased to report that significant progress has been made with respect to these pledges,” the statement further noted.

The statement quoted the Justice Minister as saying  that the Executive  branch of government  has submitted  a draft amendment to the Alien and Nationality Law to provide  for dual nationality  is  before the Legislature  for  its review and consideration.

“Her Excellency, the President of Liberia, in her recent State of the Nation Address to the Honorable Legislature, delivered on January 26, 2015, encouraged the Legislature to amend the Refugee Act and to make provision for stateless persons,” the statement quoted the Justice Minister as saying.

The Ministerial Conference held in Cote D’Ivoire was attended by UN High Commissioner for Refugee, Mr. Antonio Gutierrez, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, Vice President of ECOWAS Commission, representatives of international organizations, and civil society actors.

The occasion was also graced by other dignitaries including Cote D’Ivoire Justice Minister Mr. Gnenema Mamadou Coulibaly.