April 18, 2014, 5:55 pm
By The Carter Center
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.