New prison facility to boost Liberia’s justice sector

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Liberia’s justice sector has received a much needed boost with the ground-breaking ceremony for a new prison facility in Cheesemanburg, Montserrado County, to replace the overcrowded Monrovia Central Prison. Vice-President Joseph N Boakai laid the foundation stone for the new facility that will ensure secure containment of prisoners as well as their rehabilitation.

Attending the ceremony, UNMIL’s Deputy Envoy for Rule of Law, Louis M Aucoin, said that the UN will continue to help the government in bringing reform in its Justice sector to be on par with 21st century norms. “The UN family remains a committed partner to support the reform in the Justice sector of Liberia and its development efforts,” he said.

“This new prison will strengthen the corrections system in Liberia by reducing pressure on the already overcrowded existing facilities and will provide an effective security environment, bolstering capacity to ensure safe and humane containment of inmates,” said Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) Aucoin.

Terming the infrastructural development as an “essential component in the reform and strengthening the rule of law in Liberia”, the Deputy SRSG said, “The new prison will enable suitable separation of vulnerable groups within the prison population in line with the recognized human rights standards.”

“Importantly, it will reduce the high rates of recidivism by providing an appropriate setting for meaningful training for offenders and for the separation of hardened criminals and first offenders. This will go a long way towards promoting public safety and enhancing public trust in the corrections system,” he added.

While commending the Pre-Trial Detention Taskforce for the work already accomplished, he also urged them to take concrete actions immediately to reduce the high number of inmates in pre-trial detention. He also called upon the international community to offer more support in bringing Liberia’s corrections system firmly into the 21st century.

The project, with financial assistance from UN Peacebuilding Fund, is aimed at reducing the number of inmates from existing overcrowded prisons, providing facility for various programmes, and improving the general well-being of the inmates.

Requested by the government, Liberia was placed on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission in September 2010 and a Peacebuilding Priority Plan was developed to serve as the basis for interventions in Liberia.