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OHCHR report 2013 OHCHR Report 2013
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Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society A Handbook for Civil Society (PDF)

OHCHR in Sierra Leone (2010-2011)


Human rights context

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.

 

Achievements in 2010

Monitoring, capacity building, technical assistance, financial support, training and sensitization activities have been conducted with partners and stakeholders. Many joint activities were conducted with the Human Rights Commission and aimed at enhancing its capacity, mobilizing resources, and working towards the establishment of a monitoring and reporting directorate.

The HRS also provided logistical support and training in human rights and monitoring to the 13 District Human Rights Committees and civil society organizations. It conducted trainings for law enforcement personnel and developed a curriculum on human rights and gender to be used in future trainings. As per advocacy and sensitization activities, these included radio sensitization programmes, activities with pupils in schools, workshops, support to partners in celebrating human rights days and direct engagement with a number of institutions.

The Section assisted in building the capacity of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and in implementing the National Reporting Strategy of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It also supported the government, the Human Rights Commission and civil society organizations to develop and implement their respective reporting strategies in view of the UPR process.

Field officers have continuously monitored incidents as well as general human rights developments, and have conducted periodic monitoring of Courts and Local Courts proceedings as well as inspections of prisons and police cells.

The Section gave technical support to civil society organizations during consultations and advocacy for the enactment of the Disability Bill, and organized jointly with the Human Rights Commission a national Consultative Conference with high level participation. A pre-legislative discussion on the Persons with Disability Bill was also organized for members of the Legislative and Human Rights Parliamentary Committees.

The Section also supported activities to promote women’s rights. Specific training and open dialogues were carried out on gender based violence and in particular on FGM. Gender was mainstreamed in capacity building programmes and monitoring, with special focus on the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police.

 

Priorities in 2011

 
Impunity
The HRS will continue to advocate for the full implementation of the TRC recommendations, especially those referred to human rights abuses, including the abolition of the death penalty, the decriminalization of libel, the constitutional review and the repeal of discriminatory provisions against women.

Human rights mainstreaming
The Section will continue to build the capacity of UNCT, the selected civil society organizations and the Human Rights Commission on human rights-based approach. It will participate in Joint activities and programmes with the UNCT and other sections of UNIPSIL with the purpose of strengthening the human rights component of UN activities.

Discrimination
Priority will be given to the elimination of all forms of discrimination, including discrimination against women, people with disabilities, HIV positive. The Section will raise awareness of right-holders, and build capacities of the government and civil society organizations in this regard.

Human rights mechanisms
The HRS will advice and assist the government in submitting its overdue report, in particular under CAT, ICCPR and ICESCR

Contact Information

Headquarters

Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD)
Contact is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Africa Section
Tel. +41 22 928 9694


Field

United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone - (UNIPSIL)
Tel. (1) 212 963 9588
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Email: balbinb@un.org

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OHCHR in the field

Map of OHCHR field presences

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Action 2

Technical Cooperation Programme

National Human Rights Institutions