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UN envoy presses for more progress on revamping Liberian criminal justice system

17 February 2012 – A senior United Nations official today urged Liberians to redouble their efforts to revamp the West African country’s criminal justice system, saying that while substantial progress has been made since the end of the civil war almost a decade ago, much more remains to be done.

“It is important to remember that Liberia still faces important challenges in re-establishing the rule of law,” said Louis Aucoin, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for the Rule of Law, at a ceremony in the town of Gbarnga in which Nigerian police serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) received peacekeeping medals.

“There is the need to address the challenges identified within the criminal justice system that hinder the required progress in this sector.”

UNMIL has worked with local authorities to try to reform the Liberian criminal justice system in the wake of the brutal civil war, which left the country with little functioning infrastructure and few trained staff to handle criminal justice cases.

The mission has been progressively handing over security responsibilities to Liberian authorities, and Mr. Aucoin stressed that “this is a systematic process that requires time and preparation.”

In Gbarnga, a new $3.7 million justice and peace hub, paid for by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, contains courts, offices, barracks and training centres for security agencies, and serves much of central Liberia.

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