Liberia launches first justice and security hub
Posted: Friday, 22 February 2013, New York | Author: Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Peacebuilding Support Office
On 12 February, the Government of Liberia, in collaboration with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), launched Liberia’s first regional justice and security hub in Gbarnga, Bong County, northeast of the country's capital. With funding from the UN Peacebuilding Fund amounting to over $13 million, the Government of Liberia plans to open a network of five regional justice and security hubs to increase citizens’ access to justice and security services throughout the country.
The Gbarnga hub will be staffed by 139 personnel, including police officers, human rights monitors, public defenders, prosecutors, and probation and immigration officers, and will serve communities in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties with an overall population of over one million people. The hub concept shows Liberia’s commitment to the justice and security sectors working together, including police and other law enforcement, the courts, state prosecution and defense, and corrections.
Some hub services are already operational, including specialized services from the sexual and gender based violence crimes unit. Liberia National Police Officers have also begun patrols to help build confidence and trust amongst local communities. Community advisory and dispute resolution services will be developed at the hub in the coming months.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said: “The opening of this first hub, in the nation’s heartland, is confirmation that we mean what we say about decentralizing services to all parts of this country, and that Monrovia is not Liberia! The decentralization of governmental services to the people is a mark of good governance. The presence of this hub, and the others to follow, will ensure access to justice and to quality security service for all Liberians.”
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Liberia, Ms. Karin Landgren, said: “As we celebrate this event, we are looking at the future of Liberia – a future where justice and security are brought closer to all Liberians, and where greater fairness and accountability increase confidence in the rule of law. It is a future of greater security, contributing to the Government and UNMIL’s overall security transition strategy.”
Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Ms. Judy Cheng-Hopkins, who also attended the event stated: "The United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office and the Peacebuilding Fund are proud to be associated with this important endeavour. With funding of up to $13.3 million for all five hubs, this is the most ambitious project undertaken by the Fund thus far.”
The opening of Liberia’s first justice and security hub in Gbarnga is an important step in the decentralization of Government services for all Liberians. Once the base of the rebellion launched by Charles Taylor in the 1990s, Gbarnga today symbolizes the enormous progress made by Liberia with support of international partners in the provision of justice and security services to Liberian citizens beyond the capital.