Global Human Rights Defence

Liberia’s gbi-doru district and its need for development

Liberia and its counties

Liberia, situated in Western Africa, is home to fifteen administrative counties with sixteen officially recognized ethnic groups. The sixteen ethnic groups are the Belle (Bella/Kuwaa), Bassa, Grandi, Krahn, Vai, Kissi, Kru, Gola, Gio (Dan), Mandingo, Mende, Mano (Ma), Grebo, Loma, Dei (Dey), and Kpelle, being the largest ethnic group situated in central and western Liberia.

Nimba County is the largest county of Liberia situated in the northeast, sharing borders with Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. The county seat is in Sanniquellie, northeast of Nimba. Nimba county consists of seventeen districts, and as of the latest official census of 2008, about 462.026 people reside in the county. The county is represented by two senators and nine representatives at the legislative branch of the government.

The Gbi-Doru District

The Gbi-Doru district is one of the seventeen districts of Nimba County. Gbi-Doru is an immensely forested land located south of Nimba, bordering the Rivercess and Grand Gedeh counties. The people of the district speak a mix of the Bassa and Gbi languages. The Gbi-Doru is part of the Tappita Statutory district, which is also where the people of Gbi-Doru pay their taxes. Prior to being part of Tappita in 1938, the people of Gbi-Doru were obliged to pay their taxes in Buchanan, located on the west coast of the country, which resulted in deaths as people had to travel for three weeks to reach Buchanan from Gbi-Doru, due to the old mandate that taxes must be paid in that city. In addition, the harsh conditions of the weather and river-crossing faced by the citizens of Gbi-Doru resulted in fatalities. Now being part of Tappita City, the Gbi-Doru citizens would still have to walk for nine hours or drive for roughly five to six hours to pay their taxes.

Photo from: WordSower Liberia

The Gbi-Doru’s Integration in Nimba

The people of Gbi-Doru have expressed their need for independence due to the underdevelopment of the district in their pleas to the government in the past decades. According to their latest petition to President Weah in February 2021, the Gbi-Doru indicated their exclusion from opportunities given to other districts in Nimba. Unlike the other districts, Gbi-Doru does not enjoy the same development of roads, schools, health centers, and housing units. However, the citizens of Gbi-Doru stated that this exclusion is not a ‘willful’ and ‘premeditated design’ of Nimba’s leadership. According to the people of Gbi-Doru, the relatively large distance between their district and Nimba county’s seat, the city of Sanniquellie, is the reason for the Gbi-Doru’s underdevelopment. In response to the Gbi-Doru’s plea, Liberia’s President Weah, during his tour of the country on 18 February 2021, made promises to undertake several projects to develop the district by constructing schools, health centers, and housing units.

Photo of President Weah visiting the Gbi-Doru district from KTV Liberia 

Consequences to the right to education

The underdevelopment of the Gbi-Doru has had dire consequences on the children’s right to education. The state of education in several towns in the Gbi-Doru district is poor. In the town of Kidka, in the Gbi-Doru district, the only elementary school in the town is in dilapidated condition and suffers from a severe shortage of teachers. Kidka town has 110 students with only one teacher tending to them, which affects the quality of education given to the children. Tiah is located southwest of the Gbi-Doru district. The town had no school buildings until the International Consultant Capital, a logging firm operating in Gbi-Doru, built a six-classroom elementary school building. This became the first modern school building in the Gbi-Doru district. The children of Gbi-Doru, especially in Tiah town, have not received proper education. Therefore, rather than going to school, they learn their parent’s trades: hunting, gold mining, and farming. In another Gbi-Doru district town named Unification, the only elementary school is in dilapidated condition with 165 students and only two teachers. The school building suffers from rainwater leaking through the roofs, so classes get canceled when there is heavy rain.

Photo: School in Kidka Town, Gb-Doru from Public Trust Media Group Liberia

The right to education is an important right enshrined in international law, such as in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which recognizes the right to education under Article 28. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), in Article 11, sets out the right to education of every child and prescribes that the State must fully realize this right by providing adequate conditions and tools for education. As a state party to the aforementioned regional and international treaties, Liberia has the moral responsibility to respect, fulfill, and protect the children’s right to education. This would include building the proper infrastructure and providing educational material in the district of Gbi-Doru. 

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, welcomed Liberia’s Education Reform Act of 2011 through their latest concluding observations. Liberia’s Education Reform Act of 2011 aims to ensure the provision of quality education to all children between the ages of 3-15. However, implementation of the CRC and the Education Reform Act is yet to be seen in the country. Specifically, the UN Committee is concerned with the unavailability of reconstructed schools and the lack of trained teachers in many rural areas in Liberia. Therefore, the UN Committee recommends Liberia allocate more funds to building school facilities, services, and training and increase schools’ availability at all levels, particularly in the rural areas.

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) is the regional committee promoting and protecting the rights enshrined in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. They concluded in 2019 during their visit to Liberia that there is a lack of school structure for children and children with disabilities in rural areas. The ACERWC urged the Liberian government to implement an inclusive education policy that ensures that all children in urban and rural areas enjoy their right to education.


The Gbi-Doru district, throughout the years, has suffered from slow assimilation and integration within Nimba County. Although the people of Gbi-Doru did not blame the county’s authorities, it is clear that the Gbi-Doru district does not benefit from an equitable share of Nimba’s resources. The Gbi-Doru district is consequently lacking in essential and adequate infrastructures such as roads, bridges, health centers, and schools. The underdevelopment demonstrated in the Gbi-Doru district carries a tragic consequence: the impediment of the children’s right to education.


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Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Marguerite Remy
Coordinator Middle East and a Legal Researcher.

Marguerite is the coordinator of the team of legal researchers focusing on the Middle East and a legal researcher herself.

She developed her expertise in international human rights law, international criminal law and humanitarian law during her double bachelor in law and political science at Sorbonne-Paris 1 University and her LLM in public international law at Leiden University. Particularly interested in the Middle East for years, Marguerite has acquired a good knowledge of the region and its human rights issues through various field experience, including internships in a cultural service of the French embassy and in a local NGO, as well as a semester in a university in the region. Currently, her main interests are accountability mechanisms for crimes committed during recent armed conflicts, notably in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the Palestinian case at the ICC, and transitional justice issues.

Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Mattia Ruben Castiello
Media quality coordinator

Mattia is currently in charge of quality checking and improving all the social media and website handles of the Global Human Rights Defence.
With a bachelor in Psychology from Spain and a master in Cultural Anthropology from the Netherlands, Mattia’s passion now lies in Human Rights in regard to the refugee and migrant crisis. Having lived his whole life in East-Arica, Mattia has had the opportunity to work with a vast amount of non-government organisations and health institutions. This has provided him with knowledge in diverse cultural understandings as well as interest in concerning global issues.

Jeremy Samuël van den Enden
Coordinator Bangladesh & Communication Officer
Mr. Van den Enden has a MSc in International Relations and specializes in inequality, racial dynamics and security within international diplomacy and policymaking. He studies the contemporary as well as modern historical intricacies of human rights in the global political arena. Furthermore, Mr. Van den Enden assists GHRD in revitalizing its internal and external communication.
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Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Prerna Tara
Human Rights Coordinator

Prerna Tara graduated from Leiden Law School with an LLM in Public International Law. She practiced in the India before starting her Masters. She has assisted in pro- bono cases and interned at some of the best legal firms in India which has brought her face to face with the legal complexities in areas of corporate law, white collar crimes etc. Her work at GHRD deals with human rights research spanning throughout the globe.

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Bianca Fyvie
Coordinator and Head Researcher

Bianca has widespread knowledge about social problems and human rights issues, with a specific focus on social justice in Africa and the empowerment of communities and individuals. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Stellenbosch University as well as a Master’s degree in Social Work and Human Rights from Gothenburg University. She has participated in courses on Women’s Leadership at Stellenbosch University, and has worked with organizations such as AIESEC towards furthering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She also has experience in working directly with marginalized and vulnerable groups in South Africa while qualifying as a Social Worker.
Bianca is the coordinator for a group of interns doing research and reporting on Human Rights topics in a range of African countries. Her focus is on ensuring that these countries are monitored and have up to date reports and research conducted in order to allow relevant and updated information to be produced.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Hiba Zene
Coordinator and Head Researcher

Hiba Zene holds a Bachelor’s degree in International and European Law from The Hague University and, has significant legal knowledge in the field of international human rights law. She actively advocates for the protection of all human rights of vulnerable minorities and marginalised groups. Focusing, specifically on the human rights of children and women in Africa.
Hiba is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. As a human rights defender for GHRD she has examined and investigated various human rights abuses, violations and issues in Africa. She has led research missions addressing issues on Statelessness in Kenya, Child Abuse in Uganda, and Teen Pregnancy in Kenya.

Thaís Ferreira de Souza
Coordinator and Head Researcher (International Justice and Human Rights)

Senior Paralegal at PGMBM (Amsterdam office), working to bring justice for victims of wrongdoing by big corporations, with a focus on human rights and environmental law.
Previously, Thaís worked as a Visiting Professional at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, providing legal advice on international human rights law and international criminal law. She also worked at the State Court of Justice of the Rondônia State (TJRO) in Brazil from 2013 to 2017, initially as a legal clerk and posteriorly as a legal advisor to judges. In 2016 she served as the regional representative of the Brazilian Institute of Criminal Procedural Law (IBRASPP) in the State of Rondônia, Brazil and during her bachelor’s degree, she worked as a Research Assistant at the Research Group ‘Ethics and Human Rights’ of the Federal University of Rondônia for over three years.

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher

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Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Fabian Escobar
Coordinator and Head Researcher

My name is Fabian Escobar, L.L.B. International and European Law candidate to The Hague University. I was born in Honduras and been living in The Netherlands, more specifically Amsterdam the last 8 years. I am passionate about Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights, fighting racism, and empowering women and ethnic minorities. In GHRD I am the coordinator for the Europe Team, I am thankful for being part of this team and that I have been given the opportunity to learn and apply my learning.