OHCHR has been involved in Sierra Leone since 1998 as part of successive UN missions, including the current United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). The Human Rights Section (HRS) of UNIPSIL engages with the Government and the Parliament in promoting human rights legislation and supports the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the civil society in their efforts to advance human rights in the country.
In September 2011, Security Council Resolution 2005 extended UNIPSIL’s mandate, including its human rights component, until 15 September 2012.
Since the end of the conflict, Sierra Leone has experienced progress in democratization and human rights. Significant progress has been made with regards to legislation, with the passage of a number of laws to promote and protect human rights, although implementation of such laws is still weak.
Although there is now a stable central government with power decentralized through local district councils, politics is still fragmented along regional and ethnic lines, with increasing manifestation of political intolerance. Emerging political violence ahead of the 2012 elections; capacity constraints on police and justice; corruption; and youth unemployment are the remaining key challenges to the protection of human rights and the consolidation of peace.
In 2004, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final report containing a number of recommendation to ensure accountability and reparation for the abuses committed during the civil war. However, several key recommendations in the area of human rights have not been implemented yet. Human rights violators have not been held accountable in many cases. Although legal remedies are provided for under the Constitution and in the laws of Sierra Leone, weak access to justice and legal representation often renders these ineffective.
Sexual and gender-based violence, traditional discriminatory practices against women and poverty continue to impact gender parity. Discrimination also exists against the persons with disabilities, particularly in accessing to public services such as transport, health, and education and in participating in public life. People living HIV/AIDS are often stigmatized.
Achieving the overall enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights is a major challenge for the government. Encouraging initiatives are the national strategies on access to health and poverty reduction, which obtained positive results.
The Human Rights Commission was established in 2006 as independent national institution for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commission was accredited with ‘A status’ by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) in May 2011.The Government has also adopted a “National Strategy on Treaty Bodies Reporting”, which is now being implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The Country has ratified many of the international treaties, but the level of domestication and harmonization of is still very low. Sierra Leone will be reviewed under the UPR in June 2011.