The Age of a child in the CRC Report suffers setback at the National Legislature
The issues of the Women of Liberia in the CRC’s final Report at the National Legislature is gradually being swept under the rug by Lawmakers. The women presented six issues at the Constitution Review National Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County where five of the issues were voted for and only one was defeated. After the conference, the CRC presented their Report to the Legislature in August last year.
At the Lower House, the report was sent to the Committee on Good Governance for revision. According to the Chair of the Committee, Representative Larry Younquoi, they have concluded their work and have presented it to the Speaker of the House, Alex Tyler. Out of the women’s five prepositions in the Report only one was captured in the House’s Good Governance recommendations for inclusion in the prepositions for Referendum. Equal Participation in Governance is the issue captured while according to the Committee, the others can be placed in Statues.
Among the other issues that were pushed aside or ignored by the Houses’ Committee is the age of a child. The Constitution of Liberia has not clearly defined who is a child. Women of Liberia have said that there is a need for the constitution, which is the highest law of a country to state the Age of a child. The women believed that when this is done, it will address the many issues children go through in Liberia. Some of the issues include: Rape, forceful and early marriage, teen age pregnancy etc. Against this backdrop the women of Liberia decided to include the issue of Age in the prepositions presented to the CRC. The preposition states that the Age of a child should be 18 year.
After the Legislature Easter Break, there was credible information that the Houses’ Committee on Good Governance report on the CRC was to be presented in plenary session for discussion. As the first women’s organization to receive the information, the Liberia Women Media Action Committee collaborated with the Women’s Constitution Review Taskforce, the Ministry of Gender Children and social Protection and other Women groups to form a delegation to attend the Plenary Session and engage the Lawmakers on the issue of the age of a child.
The women gathered on the Grounds of the Capitol Build on the day scheduled for the discussion in plenary but was slapped in the face to receive information that the CRC. Report was not going to be discussed. Upon receiving the information a team of four women proceeded to the Chief Clerk’s office to inquire the items on the Agenda for discussion in session. The response from the chief Clerk’s office seemed as though something awkward was going on. The information was that the Clerk's office was not yet knowledgeable of what the Agenda would look like for that day. The women were told that they have not gotten words from the Speakers’ office. The women then decided to visit other key Stakeholders in the lower House but they were told that according to the speaker, he has not gone through the Committees’ report and as such, he cannot bring it up in session for discussion.
Since the Lawmakers returned from their Easter Break, they have not brought up the CRC’s Report for discussion and it is unclear as to the precise time this will occur.