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This amendment includes making rape billable for all offense (currently, it is quasi billable or non-billable for first degree felony), and granting convicted rapist’s parole (they currently do not get parole). These two major amendments defeat the purpose of having a strong Rape Law despite challenges.
On January 2006, as Liberia ushered in its first democratically elected female president, the country also published into law a groundbreaking New Rape Law.
Officially called an act to amend the New Penal Code Chapter 14 Section 14.70 and 14.71 and to provide for gang rape, Liberia’s New Rape Law made several significant changes to the existing Penal Code as follows: it extended the definition of rape to include both genders as possible perpetrators. It expanded the definition of “consent” and presumption of the lack thereof.
It provided maximum life sentences for first degree felony rape and a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment for second degree felony rape. It extended the list of capital offenses under Liberian laws to include first degree rape a capital offense hence non-billable.
This was a victory for Liberians having endured years of rape and other sexual offenses during the duration of the country`s civil crises and after, especially within in the context of statutory rape becoming non-billable, when the New Rape Law was passed.
As the first step in investigating in the implementation of the law, a law establishing the Special Court, Court “E”, for sexual offenses to expedite rape cases was passed. This court was renovated and empowered with funds from the Danish government, to adjudicate rape cases expeditiously. The country also established the Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) crime unit under the Ministry of Justice to focus on rape and other gender based violence cases.
Despite these efforts at addressing this menace, Liberia continues to see high number of rape cases and significant challenges in implementing the law. The high numbers of rape cases, with majority categorized as statutory rape have become an issue of much concern, with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights labeling it as human rights issue and indicated that the Liberian government as a signatory to several international human rights treaties and instruments “is not in compliance with its human rights obligations.
Currently, there are only one sexual offenses court which is situated in Monrovia, with no DNA testing facility or equipment in the entire country and an overcrowded docket of pre-trail detainees awaiting trail while the victims live in fear and trauma with no justice in sight.
In the midst of these challenges, the Liberian Senate has chosen the option to avoid addressing the structural and logistical barrier to ending violence against women and girls.
Therefore, I’m calling on the lower House to vote against the new amendment because it is not in the true spirit of justice and equality, which should be the hallmarks of our society. I am also pleading with the legislators to be progressive by ensuring budgetary allocations and policies to further invest in the implementation of law such as the establishment of county levels SGBV crimes unit and branches of Criminal Court “E”, invest in forensic technology for the preservation and evidence gathering.
The legislature should also recognize the value of mutual accountability and innovation. By this, the legislature must commence a process of external engagement and consultations with stakeholders in the women’s rights sector, the association of female lawyers and other justice or protection groups to get concrete indications of the impact of the rape crisis on women and girls across Liberia.

Josephus Nyahn, student of UL
“For me, I would like to call on lawmakers to rethink this regressive legal direction when Liberia faces multiple transitions. It is important to highlight the non-negotiable actions of aligning future actions, particularly from the House of Representatives to National Women’s Rights` context on violence against women and girls,” the UL student said.
He pointed out that additionally, emphasis of specific concerns must be placed on the current prevalence of sexual violence in the Liberian society and the state’s obligation to address this human rights and public health crisis.
“So, in my mind this, law cannot and will never be a billable crime in the Liberian society, especially so that our country is a signatory to lots of international documents to the upholding and protection of the rights of women and girls.

Caroline Johnson, Student of UL
Caroline stated that “rape” is a social phenomenon that has been occurring on a daily basis in the country. I would like to draw your attention to the heinous crime. Now, coming to the point through the reported amendment by the Senate I would like to draw the attention of Liberian populace particularly our lawmakers to take stringent action against the culprit. Laws should be amended to ensure stringent punishment to the culprits to act as a deterrent to crime against women.” “Therefore,’ she iterated, “I share same view with people standing against the amendment by those wicked Senators making “rape” a billable offense in Liberia. Someone who rapes a under girl deserves a horrible punishment, such person should be hang and not bailed out.

Salome Dioh, Student of Florence Nightingale School of Medicine
“For me, amending the Rape Law of Liberia is not in the interest of victims. With this action, the Senate is prioritizing bailing out accused rapists instead of giving due attention to upholding the judicial system and to ensuring swift justice for women traumatized by rape.”
She indicated that the non-billable law was initiated following the second Liberian civil war, to address the many atrocities Liberian women endured.
He added that the law making rape a non-billable offense addressed the culture of violence against women and girls that once engulfed the country.
“Legal deterrence to rape and to violence is against women in general, is a key legacy of the past 12 years peace and stability, which we as a country have enjoyed. The move in the Senate takes our country backwards and it sends a clear message to women that our current lawmakers will not prioritize women’s safety and rights.

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