Women Want Constitution Amended

By: Morrison O.G.Sayon


The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 26, 2004

The women of Liberia have stressed the need for the amendment of the constitution of Liberia to specify punishment for rape and other forms of violence against women and children in the country.

The women are calling for the amendment of 14.70 of the New Penal Code as reflected in the constitution of the Republic of Liberia which they believe, has not spelt out any severe punishment for rape, a crime which under the constitution, is a second degree felony and is punishable with a five-year imprisonment or the imposition of fine on the rapist while the victim remained forgotten.

Serving as keynote speaker at an Open Forum on Sexual Protection of Women And the Due Process of Law, organized under the auspices of the Association of Female Lawyers Of Liberia {AFELL}, former Chief Justice of Liberia Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott said there are special crimes in society including rape, among others, that need to be identified and dealt with in line with their gravity. The former Chief Justice noted that if this measure is not taken seriously, it is likely that the current wave of impunity will continue. She then made specific reference to the crime of rape which has become prevalent in the country.

The astute female lawyer lamented over the definition of rape in keeping with the laws of Liberia, stressing that it did not address the issue of rape adequately. She blamed such unfair laws in the book as the creation of the male population, who she said, are interested in self gratification.

For his part, the Chief Justice of Liberia Cllr. Henry Reed Cooper maintained that the constitution of Liberia cannot be amended under the National Transitional Government of Liberia. He said those serving in the National Transitional Legislative Assembly(NTLA) are not true representatives of the people.

He noted that the constitution is a very important document of the nation and therefore, cannot be tampered with by any group or individual, stressing that only a government that was constitutionally elected has the right to amend the constitution. Cllr. Cooper’s statement comes in the wake of a call by Gender & Development Minister Varbah Gayflor that the transitional period should be used for the amendment of the constitution of Liberia.

The 2-day forum which was held at the Law Library on Ashmun Street, under the aegis of {AFELL}, in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), deliberated on several topics including Forms of Effects of Sexual Violence, Testimonies of Victims, among others.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.