Right Holders Network(RHN), a child and youth advocacy group, on Thursday, July 23, launched an advocacy campaign, “The Voices of Children Matters Amidst COVID-19” in the Township of Crozierville, rural Montserrado County.
The campaign is a knowledge sharing and learning experience with local stakeholders outlining the issues children are faced with during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The advocacy campaign is supported by Youth Coalition for Education in Liberia, with funding from the Fund for Global Human Rights.
Speaking during the opening, Ballah F. Saywala, Chairman of the Network, explained that the campaign seeks to assess communities’ approaches in protecting and promoting the rights of children amidst the fight against COVID-19.
Mr. Saywala said the organization intends to work with community leaders to develop community-led solutions that provide safe spaces for children’s voices to be heard and place them at the heart of decision-making processes on issues that affect them.
According to Saywala, children are among the most vulnerable in the communities during these difficult times, adding that the closure of schools have worsened the situation because their voices are often silenced by those who they see as the protectors.
“Violence, neglects and abuses are all tools used to marginalize children’s voices, many communities in parts of Liberia have successfully subscribed to this culture and now is the time to for all of us know that children have the right to their opinion and adults must listen to them,” he said.
In a separate remark, Daniel G. Tarpeh, Deputy Commander, Bensenville Police Detachment applauded the organization for such initiative and stressed that it would further empower the citizens to closely relate with the police and share information that can help the police curb SGBV and other forms of child rights violations in the township and the country at large.
Deputy Commander Tarpeh however revealed that the number of police officers in the township of Crozierville is not more than seven (7). According to him, the number of officers in the township should have been 16, but many officers abandon their duties.
He urged the Right Holders Network team to work with the police in the township to organize the community policing task force that will also help support the police in protecting and promoting children’s rights and bring to light perpetrators of violence, and abuse of children especially girls.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commission of the Township of Crozierville, Bamakollie Kerkula said there is a need for an establishment of a magisterial court in the township as it will help in the adjudication of cases. Mr. Kerkula said residents are usually reluctant to pursue cases due to the distance between the township and the magisterial court.