Community-level solutions to avoid mob violence

Amos Payne, Jr., Sinoe County, Catholic Justice and Peace

One of the major tools that we, the Community Legal Advisors of the JPC, use to solve individual problems is small-scale mediation. We do this to bring peaceful coexistence into communities. But we also try to find ways to address community-level problems when the need arises.

In recent days, we faced a community-level problem involving four boys accused of witchcraft by a community in downtown Greenville, Sinoe County. Actually what brought up this problem was a lady who had a dream and saw these four boys planning to take her life.

The news circulated in the community, which was concerned about the case. The boys were interrogated and threatened with harm if they refused to confess.

During this process, the Liberia National Police and UNMIL intervened to rescue the children from being victims of mob violence.

Even after the safety of the children was assured, JPC and the other actors felt a need to address this problem with the community.

We convened a community meeting the day following the children’s rescue to discuss mob violence and witchcraft. Afterward, the LNP turned the boys over to their parents, through the community chairman.We continue to conduct follow-up in the community to know about the well-being of the children and also to discuss ways of solving problems like these if they arise again. Anytime we go in the community, we make a note of our findings in the file we keep on this case.Therefore, community dialogue and education is another way of handling problems, especially among those who are not aware of the law or are planning to effect an action on their own that may lead to serious conflict.

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