Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Sets the Record Straight on Human Rights Concerns

By Foday Moriba Conteh

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has on the 30th March, 2023, in a Press Release, signed by its Chairperson, Patricia Narsu Ndanema (Mrs.), informed that, as an institution, it was established by Act No. 9 of 2004 with the mandate to protect and promote the human rights of all in Sierra Leone.

It further stated that Section 7(2)(f) of its Act provides that the Commission shall monitor and document violations of human rights in Sierra Leone.

The Commission further maintained that through its daily media monitoring activity, it has become aware of the current public debate on human rights concerns raised in various Human Rights reports put out by reputable institutions in the country.

However, the Commission said it wishes to draw the attention of the public of its press statements/reports on the following incidents in the past, referenced in reports, all of which are reflecting the official position of the HRCSL.

One is the Press Statement on recent incitement and violent protests of 8th to 10th August 2022.

The other is an Observation and Monitoring Report of the Human Rights Violation and Human Rights Abuses in relation to the incidents of 17th and 18th July 2020 in Makeni.

Another was the  Press Release on the Monitoring of Quarantine Homes and on the Recent Spate of Violence in the Country (The events at Freetown Male Correctional Center 29th April 2020, Lunsar on 30th April and Tombo 6th May 2020)

The Human Rights Commission said, in light of the above, it is making the following statements: That Sierra Leone remains a peaceful country and everyone should aspire to maintain that status quo as we go into the June 2023 elections and beyond.

It also pointed out that the Government should continue to fulfill its obligation under Section 5 (2) (b) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 which states as follows; “the security, peace and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone shall be the primary purpose and responsibility of Government, and to this end it shall be the duty of the Armed Forces, the Police, Public Officers and all security agents to protect and safeguard the people of Sierra Leone.”

According to the Commission, in a similar vein, it would like to draw the attention of citizens of their duties as enshrined in Section 13 (a – j) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 and articles 27 (1 and 2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights respectively.

It stated that all citizens shall abide by the Constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the National Flag, the National Anthem and authorities and offices established or constituted under the Constitution or any other law; to cultivate a sense of nationalism and patriotism so that loyalty to the State shall override sectional, ethnic tribal, political or other loyalties; protect and preserve public property and prevent the misappropriation and squandering of funds belonging to the Government, local authorities or public corporations; help enhance the power, prestige and good name of the State and to defend the State and render national service as may be required; respect the dignity and religion of other individuals, and the rights and interests of others; make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress, and well-being of the community, wherever he or she resides; work conscientiously in a lawful and chosen occupation and abstain from any activity detrimental to the general welfare of others;  ensure the proper control and upbringing of  children and wards; participate in and defend all democratic processes and practices and  render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order

The Commission also stated that additionally Article 27(1and2) in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights lays duties on citizens as

Article 27 points out that : Every individual shall have duties towards his family and society, the State and other legally recognized communities and the international community.

It also maintained that the rights and freedoms of each individual shall be exercised with due regard to the rights of others, collective security, morality and common interest.

Referencing Article 28, the Human Rights Commission stated that every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.

In terms of Article 29, it stated how the individual shall also have the duty: To preserve the harmonious development of the family and to work for the cohesion and respect of the family; to respect parents at all times, to maintain them in case of need, to serve the national community by placing  physical and intellectual abilities at its service; not to compromise the security of the State , to preserve and strengthen social and national solidarity, particularly when the latter is strengthened;

to preserve and strengthen the national independence and the territorial integrity of the country and to contribute to its defence in accordance with the law; to work to the best of  abilities and competence, and to pay taxes imposed by law in the interest of the society; to preserve and strengthen positive African cultural values in relations with other members of the society, in the spirit of tolerance, dialogue and consultation and, in general, to contribute to the promotion of the moral wellbeing of society and to contribute to the best of abilities, at all times and at all levels, to the promotion and achievement of African unity.

The HRCSL concluded by assuring the general public of its unwavering commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights of all in Sierra Leone.


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