Abraham M. Keita, Youth Activist and International Children’s Peace Prize winner 2015

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    Abraham M. Keita, Youth Activist and International Children’s Peace Prize winner 2015

Abraham M. Keita was born during Liberia’s brutal civil war. His father, a driver for a humanitarian organization, was killed in an ambush when Keita was only five years old. Keita grew up in extreme poverty with his mother and siblings in West Point, the largest slum of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

Keita was just 9 years old when he was first moved to speak out. Outraged by the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in his community, he took part in a peaceful protest demanding that the perpetrators – her foster parents – be brought to trial. Making an impression on his peers, Keita was invited to join the Liberian Children’s Parliament, where his passion for advocacy was nurtured. Keita has organsied peaceful marches, calling on the Liberian government to respect children’s rights. In 2012 his efforts were rewarded with the signing into law of the Children’s Act. He also lobbied successfully for direct national funding of children’s participation, and continues to lobby for free quality primary and secondary education for all.

In 2014 a 15-year-old boy was shot dead by armed forces during a peaceful protest in Keita’s neighborhood against blockades set up to contain the Ebola virus. Keita organized a second march to demand that the government take responsibility for the teenager’s death. The march sparked national debate, and because of Keita, the government was forced to acknowledge its culpability.

On his popular weekly radio program, #OurFuture, Keita raised burning issues affecting Liberian children and young people, encouraging them to open up about difficult topics such as sexual violence. After winning the 2015 International Children’s Peace Prize, The KidsRights Youngsters took Keita’s battle with violence against children to the next level. Keita addressed the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates on the refugee crisis, and on the importance of justice and safety for children. In 2016, he spoke to the UN Human Rights Council about child protection at the launch of the High Time To End Violence Against Children initiative. KidsRights played a part in this initiative, alongside the UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children, and many others.