Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein

Statement 144

9th Session of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review

Statement by Australia

Statement on Liberia
by H.E. Peter Woolcott, Permanent Representative
1 November 2010

Australia welcomes the distinguished delegation from the Republic of Liberia and appreciates its engagement in the Universal Periodic Review process.

We recognise that poverty, HIV/AIDS, and food insecurity present significant obstacles to the full enjoyment of human rights in Liberia.

Australia commends the Government of Liberia for acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2005 but we regret that domestic legislation passed in 2008 allows for the death penalty in certain cases.

While we welcome efforts made by the Government of Liberia to address rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, we are concerned by continued high rates of such violence against women and children. We also note that efforts to prosecute cases of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence are often hindered by a lack of capacity in the courts. We thank the Honourable Minister of Justice for her update today on the steps that Liberia is taking to improve the capacity of these courts.

Australia is concerned by reports of child trafficking and exploitation involving orphanages. We welcome the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare’s new child protection regulations and encourage the Government of Liberia to implement them in full. We are also concerned by ongoing reports of child labour.

Australia recommends Liberia:

1. Repeal the July 2008 law that allows for the death penalty, in line with Liberia’s obligations under the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

2. Implement legislation and policies aimed at eliminating sexual and gender-based violence and increase the capacity of Liberian courts specialising in sexual violence to ensure expedient processing of rape and other sexual assault cases.

3. Take further legislative and policy measures to protect the rights of children, including by ensuring Liberia meets its obligations under the CRC and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.