By Millicent Senava Mannah
The Human Rights Defenders Network Sierra Leone (HRDN-SL) ,in collaboration with the Human Rights Advancement Development and Advocacy Center (HURIDAC), has officially launched the General Elections Human Rights Assessment Report on the 5th December, 2023 during an auspicious event held at the organization’s office on 23 Rasmussen Street in Freetown.
Funding by Irish Aid and HURIDAC’s self-funded election program in the country’s elections cycle facilitated the production of the Assessment Report.
Executive Secretary of the Human Rights Defenders Network SL, Alphonso Gbanie, speaking at the event revealed how they jointly prepared the 2023 General Elections Human Rights Assessment Report, underscoring that it will help in playing a pivotal role in establishing a critical link between the right to vote and human rights, including the exercise of certain Freedoms such as Freedom of Association and Freedom of Expression amongst others.
“The importance of the motive behind conducting such a human rights examination of the just concluded elections, particularly the ethno-regional factors, including perceptions of elections and the role of the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone in its election processes, to upholding democratic principles and promoting a free and fair outcome cannot be overemphasized,” he stated.
He further pointed out that the Report contains nine chapters with analysis on key issues adding how they used the 2018 elections as a benchmark for success.
The Executive Secretary also intimated that the Report recommends a starting point for the country to raise awareness on its democratic constraints and to formulate a strategic plan for enhancement.
Amadou Baba Solokor, Program Officer for HURIDAC disclosed that the Report begins with a historical backdrop of the country’s political development and tries to address pertinent issues related to the 2023 elections, including the voter registration process, the spread of misinformation via social media and the handling of disallowed results, which led to some violent incidents during the election amongst other issues looked into.
He went further to reveal that the Report concludes by examining previous elections climaxing to the 2023 elections maintaining that there has been a fluctuation between successes and a decline in upholding democratic principles and human rights leading to the weakening of those values.
The Director of Electoral Education at ECSL, Momoh Kanneh, commended the two institutions for putting together the Report saying they are credible organizations that assisted them in terms of sensitizing voters on how to vote. He added that their efforts to sensitize the electorates created a huge impact maintaining how for the first time in the country’s history only 1 percent of void votes were recorded. Momoh Kanneh went on to officially launch the Report.
The event was climaxed by the presentation of the Report after a final statement was made by a representative from Amnesty International during which the aforementioned organizations were warmly recommended for compiling the Report.