Christian Zarweah

2012 HIV/AIDS JusticeMakers Fellow, Liberia

“I have lost two close friends and relatives from HIV/AIDS for lack of legal representation and they were left on their own to die. I want to stop this from continuing to happen to others”

About Christian │ The Challenge

Christian Zarweah, an educator and community activist in Ganta, Liberia, has seen firsthand the deadly toll of a flawed criminal justice system on people living with HIV/AIDS. Often, people living with HIV/AIDS in the Liberian criminal justice system simply languish in prison or pre-trial detention because they do not have access to an attorney to plead for their legal and healthcare rights. Christian devoted the early part of his career to improving Liberia’s education system through a retraining program for former child soldiers and the establishment of a community college. His personal experiences with the ravages of the criminal justice system convinced him to use his teaching skills to train attorneys and volunteers so that they can better defend people living with HIV/AIDS within the criminal justice system.

The Innovation

To this end, Christian’s project involved conducting training workshops for judiciary staff, lawyers, and a selected legal defense team for the affected, ensuring that competent legal representation was available at all three district courts. Christian also conducted trainings for key criminal justice stakeholders, including police officials, public officials, and citizens, leading to increased public awareness of the legal and constitutional rights of the affected. Lastly, the project involved distributing energy food to the most vulnerable of the affected, improving their social status across the district.