UN helps Liberia shore up rule of law through support for corrections facility

UN helps Liberia shore up rule of law through support for corrections facility

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The top United Nations envoy to Liberia has pledged the Organization’s continued support to promoting the rule of law through improved correctional facilities in the West African country which is rebuilding after a devastating 14-year civil war that killed almost 150,000 people and resulted in 850,000 more fleeing across its borders.

During a visit to Zwedru, close to Liberia’s border with Côte d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Alan Doss on Saturday underscored the need to heighten security in the area and called on citizens in border areas to report any unusual activities to the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and to local authorities.

He also reiterated a previous request that the Liberian people adhere to the rule of law and remain vigilant in outlawing violence against women and trial by ordeal.

Mr. Doss toured the newly-renovated Palace of Corrections in Zwedru, in the northeastern part of the country, and assured Liberians of UN assistance to have the prison functioning as soon as possible. Built in 1978, the prison is the first of its kind in the country that incorporates prisoner rehabilitation.

“Once the palace is reopened, we will seek resources from elsewhere to make the vocational areas of the palace functional to enable inmates to become productive people in society,” Mr. Doss told corrections officers in the facility which has a 300-prisoner capacity.

The prison was renovated with United States Government funding, but has yet to re-open due to logistical problems and lack of staff. Mr. Doss also stated that the UNMIL is in discussions with the Liberian Ministry of Justice to hire and train more corrections officers.