Promoting Justice for Detainees in Liberia

By John Kamma, Global Fellow from Liberia

It is with great joy that I announce that I have won a €10,000 Euro grant from Catalyst 2030 to pilot a project focused on detainees in Liberia. I have already secured a permit from the Ministry of Justice to visit prisons and start working with detainees to review their cases. Together, with my local learning partners and the advocates, we will identify detainees whose rights have been violated and provide legal support to facilitate access to those rights.

“Today, we visited the Monrovia Central Prison and interacted with Prison authorities who were very pleased about our intervention to bring justice to the life of pre-trial detainees. This is a step toward our data collection process that will be used to advance evidence-based advocacy, demanding due process of law for pre-trial detainees in a competent court of jurisdiction.”—John Kamma

The project, Detainees Justice Action (DJA), seeks to; promote access to justice among detainees, support their integration back into the community, and provide sustained mental health support. We just started in Monrovia but the permit from the Ministry of Justice allows our project to scale across the country. The three-month pilot phase is now focusing on the identification of detainees whose legal rights were not met. Afterwards, we hope to start addressing the issues in court with support from the advocates.

Between June and December 2022, I was engaged in an extensive training program led by the African Civic Engagement Academy (ACEA). During that period, I had an opportunity to learn with over 2,000 participants coming from across the African continent. I applied for this opportunity because I understand that our work in the community requires constant learning, research, and networking. Throughout the program, I was exposed to knowledge about basic principles of civic engagement, inclusion, media management, non-profit management, and program design. 

The whole program was conducted online, featuring multimedia content designed to expose us to different theories. I also learned a lot about practical applications from other participants. We exchanged experiences based on our unique actions in our respective communities. I was particularly impressed with the lessons surrounding the need for partnerships and collaborations. We learned that extending partnerships with the government and other civil Society Organizations can increase our chances of success in tackling the issues we face.

“Ensuring that the government does not see you as an obstacle is key to improving relationships, obtaining support, and achieving collective goals. Sometimes the government already possesses important information that is necessary for our work to be successful.” — John Kamma

Last year I was training at the African Civic Engagement Academy and whilst there I submitted a Civic Engagement Action plan detailing the work of Detainees Justice Action. This led to my recent invitation to attend the 2023 ACEA Summit which takes place tentatively on March 17-19 in Nairobi. I am so glad for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.

“The reviewers at ACEA selected me for the Summit because they were impressed with the quality of my Civic Engagement Action Plan and with my participation in the ACEA training last year.” —John Kamma