A one-day national stakeholders dialogue intended to create the space for discussion between state and non-state actors in understanding the current situation, challenges and prospects for youth and access to justice has taken place in Monrovia.

The dialogue took into consideration effective strategies for implementation and revision of existing laws, policies, and regulations surrounding youth and access to justice in Liberia. The event, which took place on Thursday, September 30, 2021, at a resort in Sinkor, was held under the theme: “The current status, challenges and prospects of Youth and Access to Justice in Liberia”.

It was organized by a not-for-profit organization known as Youth Crime Watch of Liberia (YCWL) with support from the Carter Center through funding from the Swedish Government. 

Providing an overview of the dialogue, Varney Teddy Wilson, YCWL Lead Program Manager, lauded the Carter Center and the Swedish Government for their support in organizing such an initiative that is being undertaken by youth in the country. He told the participants that the event speaks to the fact that young people are ready to take on the wheel to solve the many problems young people are going through.

“We are having this dialogue to make sure that young people are inspired and they get engaged with other national stakeholders in the justice system,” said Mr. Wilson, adding that the dialogue will further build upon achievements from other key policy documents on youth, access to justice as well as consider the current status, challenges and prospects.” 

He said the expected outcome of the dialogue is to improve the interaction and communication between young people and decision-makers including the opportunity to share key messages with heads of government line ministries and agencies, youth, and students on access to justice.

Mr. Wilson further told the participants that the YCWL wants to ensure that communication opportunities and linkages are strengthened, and gaps are reduced between generations of young people. Additionally, YCWL Lead Program Manager said the dialogue also focused on key recommendations which center around the implementation of existing policies and strategies that center on access to justice, peace, and security, among others.

For his part, Atty. Joseph Chessman of the Carter Center commended the leadership of the organizers, Youth Crimes Watch of Liberia, for being farsighted in elevating the importance of youth access to justice to the national stage. According to Atty. Joseph Chessman, nothing is more important in Liberia now than addressing the critical issues of how youth are engaged with the legal system.

“Justice for many who seek it can bring healing or cause lasting injuries depending on how accessible the system is to those looking up to seeking its intervention. This is why access to justice for the largest segment of our population is important” Atty. Chessman noted.

In remarks, Amos Williams, President of the Federation of Liberian Youth, thanked the organizers for the program and said that the current state of pre-trial detainees of youth is alarming. He called on the Government of Liberia to address the current unexplained death, kidnapping and mysterious disappearances, and alleged ritualistic killing across the country.

Meanwhile, the participants thanked YCWL for providing them with such knowledge and promised to make use of it.