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News note

New women and children protection section for Liberia’s police

Monrovia, LIBERIA, 1 September 2005 – In a major step towards building a new protective environment for Liberia’s children and women, a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a special facility for the newly established Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberian National Police (LNP) will take place here Friday, 2 September at National Police Headquarters. The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, the Hon. Jackson E. Doe, and the United Nations Mission in Liberia’s Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Operations, Steinar B. Bjornsson, are scheduled to lead the events, which begin at 10 AM.

The groundbreaking will form part of the official launch of the LNP’s Women and Children Protection Section and the certification of 25 LNP officers who have completed a specialized three-week training course in the handling and management of sexual violence, sexual abuse, and gender-based violence cases. The newly trained police officers will be assigned to serve in LNP Women and Children Protection Sections in six zones here in the Liberian capital. The training, which began on 15 August, was organized by the LNP with support from UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“Both of these actions are ‘firsts’ for Liberia: it's the first law enforcement facility intended to protect the rights and needs of women and children and it's the first time

Liberia has a Women and Children's Protection Unit as part of its police force,” said UNICEF Liberia Representative Angela Kearney. “In post-conflict Liberia, this is a great contribution to all of the efforts that are underway to protect women and children from sexual abuse and exploitation and to continue breaking down barriers. UNICEF and its partners are committed to expanding these services over the next three years until the Women and Children's Protection Unit is deployed nationwide.

“Our partners, which include the Government and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), are also committed to opening safe homes for the care and support of victims of sexual violence, exploitation, abuse, and gender based violence,” Kearney said. “Children will never be free from exploitation until all levels of society – from the family to the international community – work together and put in place a protective environment that shields children from exploitation. Today’s achievements in Liberia are important steps in building a protective environment for Liberia’s women and kids.” 

Two trainers from neighbouring Sierra Leone, including the Assistant Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police Kadi Fakondo, and a team of trainers from Liberia led the certification course.

“We've helped the officers improve their skills and techniques in managing and handling sexual violence cases,” Fakondo said. “The victims of these crimes are too often powerless to protect themselves, so we need to have effective Women and Children's Protection Units not just in Liberia, but across the continent of Africa. And it’s about time we do this.”

The Women and Children Protection Section of the LNP was established by UNICEF in collaboration with the LNP and the UNMIL Civilian Police (CIVPOL).

For media inquiries, please contact:
Patrick Slavin, Communications Officer,
UNICEF Liberia, Cell # 231/6/538-298, pslavin@unicef.org




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