|© UNICEF Liberia / 2009|
|UNICEF Representative in Liberia Isabel Crowley (left) and Liberia's Minister of Defense Brownie Samukai (right) at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to protect child rights.|
MONROVIA, Liberia, 2 December 2009 – UNICEF and Liberia’s Ministry of National Defence recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen their cooperation in ensuring that children’s rights are fully respected in the interactions between the military and the population – especially for children living in military barracks.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Liberia is on the right track in meeting its commitments,” said UNICEF Representative in Liberia Isabel Crowley. “The cooperation with the armed forces is one step further in ensuring that all branches of the government fully integrate the principles of the CRC.”
Protecting women and children
As part of the agreement, UNICEF will provide sensitization material to inform the military about children’s issues and ensure that the rights of children are not overlooked. A special component on childrens’ rights will be added to the training of all armed forces.
“The Armed Forces of Liberia are committed to respecting the rights of all citizens, especially children. By collaborating with UNICEF, we want to make sure that all soldiers and officers in the country are aware of their duties and what they need to do to protect children and women,” said Minister of Defense Brownie Samukai.
In addition, the military will also monitor closely the situation of children in its barracks and ensure that all cases of suspected abuse are referred immediately to the relevant care provider.
Liberia and the CRC
Liberia ratified the CRC in 1993. This year, it is submitting to the Committee on the CRC its combined second, third and fourth report on the implementation of the Convention.
Children and women bore a heavy burden during the 14-year civil war. For the past six years, Liberia has been at peace and the country has made significant progress in respecting the rights of children and women. Since 2005, the country has enacted four different pieces of legislation specifically addressing the CRC.
In December 2002, the Defense Ministers of 13 West African nations – including Liberia – vowed to put the CRC on the military agenda by putting personnel, time and energy to mainstream children's rights and child protection – including the non-recruitment of children into armed forces – in military training for all members of security forces.
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