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Strengthening Liberia's Juvenile Justice System -

New UN report calls for strengthening Liberia's juvenile justice system

Liberia's juvenile justice system, which like most institutions in the country suffered significantly during the country's brutal 14-year civil war, needs to be strengthened to ensure that the legal rights of children are upheld, the United Nations said today in a new report.

The latest quarterly report on the human rights situation in Liberia, released today by the UN mission there - known as UNMIL - outlines a broad range of human rights concerns, with a particular focus on the challenges facing the West African country's juvenile justice system.

Containing information gathered across Liberia from February to April 2007, the report reveals that children below the age of criminal responsibility were tried in adult courts. In addition, in many instances, they were detained with adult inmates in violation of national law and international human rights standards.

Human rights violations by some law enforcement officials and the need to improve standards in detention facilities were also cited in the report, as was the slow progress in the hearing of cases in a number of circuit courts during the February court term. Some circuit courts had not tried any cases, or only a few, due to the absence of essential personnel, the report stated.

Through its quarterly reports, UNMIL's Human Rights and Protection Section provides recommendations to help the Government promote, protect and respect the rights of all its citizens. The Section works in four key areas: monitoring, protection and reporting; transitional justice and institution-building; child protection; and capacity-building.

As part of its efforts to support Liberia's justice sector, the Mission has so far renovated and/or built 13 court houses, seven detention facilities and 24 police stations across the country.


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