Protection from violence
Has played a leading role in the Liberian Children’s Parliament, and pushed for national legislation on children’s rights
Abraham M. Keita, mostly known as Keita, was born during Liberia’s brutal civil war. Keita’s father, a driver for a human relief organization, was killed in an ambush when Keita was only five years old.
Keita grew up in stark poverty with his mother and siblings in West Point, the largest slum of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Despite the civil war ending in 2003, it left deep scars in society and its consequences continue to be felt.
Keita begins his advocacy work at the young age of nine. He is outraged by the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in his community and so he demonstrates in a peaceful protest demanding a trial against the perpetrators. Following the demonstration, Keita becomes part of the Liberian Children’s Parliament, developing his changemaking skills and experience.
The Children’s Rights Act
As an advocate for justice for children, Keita organizes several peaceful marches and writes to the Liberian government to respect children’s rights. The year 2012 marks a success for Keita’s advocacy as the Liberian government passes the children’s rights act. Furthermore, he lobbies successfully for the inclusion of funding for children’s participation in the national budget and continues his battle for free quality primary and secondary education.
“I will be able to rest when every child across the globe will be able to smile and say that violence has been eliminated.”
The Ebola crisis
Keita sparks a national debate following a horrible incident during the Ebola crisis; a young boy is shot and dies while taking part in a peaceful protest in the neighbourhood of West Point. Keita organizes a march to request the government for an independent investigation, compensation and a formal apology. The protest sparks a national debate and as a result the government acknowledges their role in the fatal shooting.
Supported by the KidsRights Care and Study Fund, Keita received his high-school diploma in 2016. He has recently started classes at a Liberian university. Keita studies environmental science.
KidsRights empowers Keita to be a strong changemaker for children who are victims of violence. With his actions, and through radio, Keita informs, inspires and mobilizes hundreds of children and youth to act for, and speak up about, their confrontations with violence.
In support of Keita, the International Children’s Peace Prize Project Fund 2016 focusses on four important areas of improving justice for child victims of violence: implementation of the Children’s Law, awareness about the rights of children, ensuring justice for children who became victims of violence and addressing the high level of sexual violence in the country.
Keita inspires young listeners in Liberia to speak out for their rights. Through the #OurFuture radio program, he discusses burning issues affecting Liberian children and youth, such as sexual violence. Young Liberians can listen to Keita every Saturday from 9am to 10am on OK FM 99:5. The show has many young listeners every week.
“It is high time to protect all of us, the world's children, particularly the most vulnerable.”
Keita is a member of The KidsRights Youngsters; a unique youth-led advocacy and awareness raising platform of the International Children’s Peace Prize winners, that aims to realise children’s rights, as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As leading young changemakers, they act locally, speak out to world leaders, influence policy, and engage children and youth worldwide.
Ending violence internationally
After winning the 2015 International Children’s Peace Prize, The KidsRights Youngsters took Keita’s battle to end violence against children to a global scale. In 2015, Keita addressed the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates on the enduring refugee crisis and the importance of justice and safety for children. In 2016, he spoke at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council about child protection at the launch of the High Time To End Violence Against Children Initiative, initiated by the UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children, KidsRights, and many others.
Advising the International Criminal Court
The KidsRights Youngsters advised the International Criminal Court on the development of their Policy on Children. This policy enables the more effective investigation and prosecution of war crimes against children. At the policy launch in 2016, Keita highlighted the importance of child participation and enabling the Court to investigate those situations where its work is needed the most; on Universal Children’s day, The KidsRights Youngsters urged the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Court without further delays.