The Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) yesterday launched a 48-page handbook entitled: ‘An analysis of basic human rights documents applicable in Sierra Leone.’
The book was launched by the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), Jamestina King at the CGG’s Old Railway line, Tengbeh Town training centre.
In her launching statement, Mrs. King explained that the book is “a project of the Justice Sector Development Programme (JSDP), implemented by CGG.”
“It is a laudable effort which will empower rights holders as well as duty bearers with the knowledge and understanding of regional and international human rights regimes, [as an] important tool for promoting and protecting human rights as well as development in post conflict Sierra Leone,” she said.
Mrs. King also noted that “regional and international treaties ratified by the State can be more meaningful to individuals when they are incorporated into national laws to enable direct application and enforcement.”
She explained that in the past, knowledge and understanding about treaties signed or ratified by government was scarce and, to a certain extent, mystified. “Individuals lacked the capacity to effectively challenge human rights violations and demand accountability from government for what they had agreed to implement,” she said.
The book, the HRCSL chairperson said, “seeks to fill the critical gap and is a very useful tool for everyone: Practitioners in the field of human rights, the media, students and the general public on the one hand; and the executive, parliament and judiciary on the other hand.”
She further explained that the book is timely as it compliments the recently developed treaty reporting strategy and current efforts by the government to fulfill its reporting obligations under the various treaties.
Mrs. King underscored that the book “gives a background on how far we have come as Africans in the area of human rights and reveals a glimpse of where we want to go in the enjoyment of rights of individuals in the continent, highlighting challenges in the enforcement of the various mechanisms.”
In her statement, CGG coordinator Valnora Edwin disclosed that the compilation of the book was sponsored by JSDP, adding that that the launching is the end phase of the project.
The compilation was limited to human rights treaties given the fact that looking at the international treaties holistically entails a lot, she said.
Mrs. Edwin explained that during CGG’s research, the Foreign Affairs Ministry was thoroughly engaged “to know what the dynamics are, and also to get a compilation of all the treaties and conventions signed by Sierra Leone and the ones incorporated in our laws.”
The CGG coordinator also disclosed that during CGG’s consultation with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, they learnt about the process and treaties that were not forwarded to parliament.
The book was compiled by Miatta Maria Samba and Edited by Abdul Tejan Cole.
JSDP representative Alpha Jalloh noted that the handbook will serve as a guide for human rights organizations.
He disclosed that JSDP is supporting the office of the ombudsman to help him develop a strategic action plan, as he [the ombudsman] is responsible to articulate issues of maladministration.
Foreign affairs representative Sahr Johnny stated that “this is a century of accountability.”
He however disclosed that Sierra Leone has lapsed behind in producing human rights reports to the United Nations.
By Ophaniel Gooding