By Amin Kef Sesay
This week saw once again the arrest and detention of a member of the opposition All Peoples Congress party, which many political watchers have condemned as another illegal highhandedness by the Police, apparently acting on orders from above.
In this regard, the Sierra Leone Human Rights and the Bar Association as protectors and promoters of citizens personal and political rights and liberties is drawn to the National Centre For Human Rights and Development (NaCFoHRD) Submission to the UN Human Rights Council for the Third cycle Universal Periodic Review on Sierra Leone, April –May, 2021 titled “Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Sierra Leone”.
The document is a national Civil Society UPR report compiled by the National Centre For Human Rights and Development (NaCFoHRD) on the implementation of the recommendations received by the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) during the second cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The report which was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the third cycle UPR review of the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) highlights key recommendations that have not been given the requisite attention by the State since the second cycle UPR review in 2016.
The report also take into cognizance the Government of Sierra Leone effort in implementing a substantial number of the UPR recommendations that were accepted and noted by the Government since the second cycle UPR. The report is divided into four main parts:
Part One of the report gives the introduction, international human rights instruments, justification, methodology and national human rights framework
Part two entails the human rights on the ground.
Part Three talks about recommendation for the State under review which are as the followings:
Independency of the Judiciary and Access to Justice.
Separation of the Ministry of Justice from that of the Office of the Attorney-General (AG).
Executive arm of Government to stop interfering into the work of the Judiciary.
To put in place the required measures to safeguard the complete independence of the Judiciary in line with the United Nations Basic Principles on the independence of the Judiciary
Improve on the welfare of all High Court Judges both past and those recently appointed.
Sitting Magistrates to be appointed in every district in the country
Importantly, NaCFoHRD’s third cycle UPR submission to the UN Human Rights Council in the area of arbitrary arrest and detention called on the Government of Sierra Leone:
To instruct the police and other national intelligence agencies to cease unlawful arrest and detention of members of opposition parties, media and civil society activists.
Ensure that independent human right monitors have access to detention centres throughout the country.
And in the area of Freedom of expression, association and assembly:
To ensure that all Sierra Leoneans including but not limited to members of opposition parties, civil society activists, journalists, human right activists and those perceive to be Government opponents are able to freely enjoy and exercise their right to freedom of expression, assembly, association without fear of intimidation, detention, arrest or harassment, and
To refrain from harassment and oppression of members of opposition parties and their families.