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Justice in Urban Liberia

The Carter Center’s community justice advisors (CJAs) are bringing free legal services – and awareness of how the law should work – to urban slums in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

In the slideshow below, we follow advisor Stephanie Sayeh as she visits client Massa Sherriff in Peace Island Township, home to many who were forced to flee during Liberia’s long civil conflict that ended in 2003. Massa’s child custody case highlights how community-based approaches are needed to support the post-conflict justice system, and how The Carter Center and its partner, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), are working to bring legal services to marginalized populations.

(Photos: The Carter Center/M. Darrough)

Five years ago, the family of Massa’s boyfriend, Prince, separated the couple because they didn’t approve of Massa – a result of tribal tensions. Massa was forced out into the streets, and her family, living deep in Liberia’s interior forests, was unable to help her. Her six-year-old daughter also was taken from her. After months of searching, Massa found her daughter living with Prince’s new girlfriend, who refused to give up the child even after splitting from Prince. Massa brought her case to Stephanie, and after months of mediation between the parties and pressure from the local police, Massa and her daughter were reunited.

Since 2007, more than 7000 cases across Liberia have been opened by community justice advisors, providing legal advice to many who otherwise could not afford or access it. Young women are the largest group to use these services.

Read more about the Carter Center’s Access to Justice Project in Liberia >

Posted in Conflict Resolution, Countries, Liberia, Peace

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  • 1

    ِِِAhmed Said on April 19, 2014 at 7:28 am

    verry good work..
    God bless you.

  • 2

    Kathy Bergman on April 29, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    My hat is off to those at the Carter Center that are obviously working to make a future possible for those in need around the globe. Unfortunately, we will never rid ourselves of potential problems to deal with, but to take the time to put things in place to allow for peace during troubled times is a tremendous undertaking, building that bridge.

    A personal, cold war in my life, gave me a good look at our legal aid system in this country. It is very lacking, in being able to meet the legal needs of the citizens here. Every rock in the foundation was able to crumble for my circumstances. I tried to ask alot of questions regarding who decides upon what types of cases they are able to accept, and I feel there is reform needed right here at home. Maybe the homefront will be next in line.

    Other countries realize the need for the work. Complacency in this one isn’t really keeping us in the right place to deal with changes globally. I understand, our inalienable rights weren’t picked up in this country with the Nafta Treaty. We need to be more aware of Policy as we go, to take care of ourselves properly, and protect our civil rights and life as we want it in the US. I want to be able to appreciate our freedom. I hope to involve myself soon with the endeavours of the Carter Center towards greater World peace, and change. Thanks Kathy

  • 3

    Sam Van Kesselly, Sr. on May 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks to the great efforts by the Carter Center/Liberia. There are still more of such cases to be tackled and it is my wish that more support be provided in reuniting children with fathers and mothers, if not parents.

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