By Samuel Serry jr. 18 August 2019
The NGO Policy Working Group, with support from Funds of Global Human Rights, has concluded a one-day working session aimed at developing a strategy to enable both local and international organisations to engage government on its 2018 Development Cooperation Framework. Coordinated by the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, the group seeks to develop a blueprint that guides stakeholders in pressing for a review of the entire policy.
Local and international human rights defenders have urged the Government of Sierra Leone to revise the Development Cooperation Framework, as the current version not only represents an intrusion into civic space, but clearly represents a breach of the government’s obligation under both national and international law to protect and respect the rights of civic groups to exist and function in a democratic state.
The working session held at the Civil Service Training College in Freetown attracted top level representatives from non-governmental organizations across the country. During the brainstorming session, the CSO leaders registered their displeasure over the non-inclusive approach in developing the policy by the government and identified several gaps in the current framework, including a lack of clarity and vision of how the framework could help achieve the country’s aspirations under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Executive Director for CARL, Ibrahim Tommy, said the current version of the cooperation framework is untenable, hence the need to work with the government for a review. “NGOs are willing to be held to account but the current policy isn’t about fostering accountability. There are clearly better ways of doing that without attempting to intrude into our space or co-opt NGOs’” he averred.
At the end of the session, the participants, including representatives from Human Rights Defenders Network, CDHR, CGG, SDI, WAVES, PAACET, SLYEO, FORWARD-SL, NTT, Amnesty International, and DCI agreed on the development of a robust advocacy strategy that will target every critical stakeholder institution in governance as well as non-state actors.