By Mohamed Sheriff
At the recently concluded 44th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland (30th June – 17th July 2020), Sierra Leone informed the Council of achievements made in 2020 in the fight against human trafficking.
During the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking of Women and Children, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, H. E. Samuel U.B. Saffa Esq, informed the Council about the government’s efforts in addressing child protection issues such as child trafficking, sexual-based violence, teenage pregnancy, child labour, female genital mutilation, rule of law, promoting justice, and human rights.
In his statement, H. E. Saffa explained the efforts made by the SLPP Government in promoting and protecting human rights. For the first time in 15 years, H. E. Saffa added, Sierra Leone has secured convictions for human traffickers and significantly increased trafficking investigations and prosecutions; provided more training on trafficking to government officials; contributed to establishing shelter for victims of trafficking and more. For these reasons, the Government of Sierra Leone was considered deserving to progress to Tier 2 status in the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report.
This report is produced by the United States Government and has become the global benchmark for monitoring implementation of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000.
During his statement at the UN Human Rights Council, Deputy Ambassador Saffa said Sierra Leone moved up to Tier 2 for efforts in arresting, increasing prosecution rates and successes in convicting human traffickers, as well as improving safety rates for trafficked victims, reducing delays in the judicial process of trafficking cases, addressing corruption, and providing a government compensation scheme for victims and survivors.
He also reported to the UN human rights body that this recent achievement of the Sierra Leone Government came as a result of the astute and dynamic leadership of His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to fighting trafficking as a human rights violation and ensuring that every child in Sierra Leone enjoys childhood as a one-time opportunity for physical, mental, emotional and social development.
The Sierra Leone civil war, the Ebola epidemic and other recent disasters have adversely impacted on the lives of many Sierra Leoneans especially children. Children have suffered immense violence, endured the consequences of family separation and internal displacement. For these reasons, investing in children is therefore an urgent priority and necessity and not a choice for the Government of President Bio, Deputy Ambassador Saffa informed the Human Rights Council.
The Human Rights Council is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly and is based in Geneva.
The Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Dr Lansana Gberie heads the work of the Sierra Leone Mission at the UN in Geneva and H.E Samuel U. B. Saffa Esq the Deputy Permanent Representative, leads on Human Rights.