The Human Rights Commission in Sierra Leone (HRCSL), which consists of five commissioners, is now settled to carry out its constitutional functions.
Mrs Jamesina King, the commission’s chairperson told Awoko that the commission would be independent and would not be subjected to the control or direction of any person, authority or government even if such person, authority or government provided financial or material support to it. She pointed out that, “the commission has jurisdiction over all rights guaranteed by the constitution or all international agreements to which Sierra Leone is a party”. The chief commissioner pointed out that they however could not investigate any matter pending or already decided by a court of competent jurisdiction or any human rights violation that occurred before 26th August 2004.
The commission was set up among other things to investigate or inquire into any allegations of human rights violations and reports, to promote the respect for human rights through public awareness and education, to review existing legislation and advise the government concerning its compliance, monitor and document violations of human rights in Sierra Leone and publish an annual report on the state of human rights in Sierra Leone. The commission, which is housed at Wellington Street in Freetown, on Friday unveiled its logo which has now given it an identity.
Speaking about the logo, Mrs Yasmin Fofanah pointed out that because “the logo is a key it represents that every Sierra Leonean can just put in a key holder and carry it with them anywhere and everywhere”.
“This means that the Human Rights Commission is every Sierra Leonean’s possession to carry and hold it to unlock their rights and privileges as a Sierra Leonean,” said Mrs Fofanah. The HRCSL has powers to make rules of procedures for the conduct of investigation, and for the purposes of any investigation the commission shall have such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court of Justice or a judge. The commission has already established committees: committee for the protection of the rights of women, committee on the economic, social and cultural rights, and committee on the promotion of equality and non discrimination.