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Liberia: U.N. Report Calls for Improved Juvenile Justice System

(Dec. 2, 2007) A November 14, 2007, report issued by the United Nations mission in Liberia states that the country's juvenile justice system needs to be made stronger to protect children's legal rights. As a result of the 14-year civil war, many Liberian public institutions must now be strengthened, including those bodies designed to protect young people. The mission's report covers a number of human rights issues and is based on information gathered from the West African nation from February to April 2007.

Among the problems highlighted in the report are the detention and trial of children who are younger than the age of criminal responsibility in adult facilities and courts, despite national law and international human rights standards forbidding the practice. In addition, the report discussed rights violations by law enforcement officers and the lack of court personnel, resulting in a backlog of cases in some parts of the country.

The mission in Liberia has a Human Rights and Protection Section that files reports four times a year. The Section focuses on four aspects of human rights work: monitoring, protection, and reporting; transitional justice and institution-building; child protection; and capacity-building. To date, 13 court houses, 7 detention facilities, and 24 police stations have been built or renovated through the Mission's efforts. (New UN Report Calls for Strengthening Liberia's Juvenile Justice System, UN NEWS, Nov. 14, 2007.)