Human Rights Tragedy in Liberia

You wouldn’t expect the juvenile justice system in Liberia to be a shining example of the Missouri model. And yet that doesn’t make the reality of its condition any less troubling. According to a new report by the UN-affiliated IRIN, which covers humanitarian news in Sub-Saharan Africa, the system is “barely functional.” There is only one juvenile court in the country, and the procedural code for adjudicating young criminals is misunderstood and rarely heeded. The county magistrates who handle such cases are ill-equipped and, sometimes, abusive. The Monrovia Central Prison is operating five times beyond its capacity, and the children who are housed inside interact with adult prisoners every day, during meals and in the bathrooms. “In February,” the report notes, “a 14-year-old boy held at Sanniquelle Prison in Nimba County told UN officials that he was given drugs and alcohol and made to work for adult detainees with whom he shared a cell.”


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