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Sierra Leone must respect human rights law, says UN expert

GENEVA (23 October 2018) – Sierra Leone’s decision to de-facto remove all three members of its Human Rights Commission was an attack on the rule of law and must be reversed, a UN rights expert said today.

"The Government’s decision to de facto dissolve the Commission’s current membership undermines the rule of law in Sierra Leone and distracts from efforts to promote and protect human rights, and human rights defenders in the country," said Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

Three human rights commissioners were appointed to the Commission for a five-year term in April 2017 but in June this year, the President of Sierra Leone, elected in March 2018, ordered the Commission’s dissolution, without citing a reason. The commissioners have not been formally dismissed but in August this year the new Government asked the public to nominate three replacements.

"The Sierra Leonean authorities should immediately rectify their actions by allowing the commissioners to conclude their five-year term," the Special Rapporteur said.

Sierra Leone’s Human Rights Commission was established in 2004. The Special Rapporteur is pursuing the case with Sierra Leonean authorities.

ENDS

*The UN expert: Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Sierra Leone

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Jessica Ní Mhainín defenders@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383)  jlaurence@ohchr.org

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.