By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper jeremiahcooper105@gmail.com

Liberia: The Liberia Health and Rights Journalist Network and other key Civil Society Actors are calling for the protection and respect of Minority Population in Liberia.

They made the call over the weekend at a one day policy dialogue engagement with stakeholders and Journalists in Congo Town, Monrovia.

LHRJN is formerly Anti-AIDS Media Network.

The one day policy engagement was intended to discuss policies that will help fight the violation of the rights of key population and marginalized groups in Liberia.

According to the Chief Executive Director of the Liberia Health and Rights Journalist Network, Mr. Necus Andrews, everyone is equal before the law, and as such; it is necessary that the media and stakeholders ensure stronger policies that will help promote the protection of the rights of all Liberian.

Also serving of the panel was Serving the president of the Liberia Network of Person Living with HIV. Wokia Cole stressed the need for key populations to be treated equally void of discrimination. “HIV is just like any other sickness, therefore people having the virus did not pray for it and we must stop saying words that will make them to feel bad instead help them to fight this deadly sickness”.

Wokia at same time called on the media to ensure robust reportage on the violation of the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. “If the Journalists are writing stories on how the rights of People with HIV have being violated, we believe that everyone will be able to understand the effects the virus has on those that are reactive to it”, she added.

According to the 2019 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS) noted that there are 39,009 people currently living with HIV in Liberia. A huge portion of those affected include Men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs, uniform service officers and traders among others. The report noted that 2% of the country’s population is living with the virus and as such, there is a need to ensure Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights services across the country.

Also speaking, the Project Coordinator for the Legal Association of Liberia, Joseph Thomas, stressed for the need to increase awareness and civic education on people and their different sexuality.

He noted that key populations must be treated with love and care, noting that it will reduce stigmatization and hate. “It is not wrong for someone to express how they feel, every body in this world have certain way they want to live”. It is not a crime once it does not violate someone else’s right”.

He disclosed that LGBT rights have been violated including their right to health which is affecting their right to live in Liberia as provided by the Liberian Constitution.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights calls for the right access to health care, non concensual medical treatment, and equal and timely access to basic health services and the provision of health related education and information for everyone.

For her part, the president of the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJAL), Siatta Scott Johnson expressed dissatisfaction over the way Liberian Journalists continue to focus their reportage on politics, when the issue of the violation of the rights of vulnerable groups of people, including people with HIV, LGBT, among others continue to become a normal way of life in the Liberian Society.

FeJAL President urged the media to report without discrimination, something she said that will help promote a free and fair society.

Global HIV statistics suggests that approximately 690, 000 people died from AIDS related illnesses in 2019. The 2019 Global Statistics also revealed that 38 Million people living with HIV, with 25.4 Million accessing antrietroviral therapy and 1.7 million people newly infected.

The Liberia Health and Rights Journalist Network was founded in 2011 to promote accurate and non judgemental health and human right Journalism and create media training awareness, campaign on health and human right issues to reduce stigma, discrimination and hate against people living with health complications.

The Liberia Female.Journalist Association is a media organization that seek the welfare of female Journalist in Liberia.

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