Presidential Affairs Minister Alpha Kanu has said that injustice and other human rights violations in the political past were responsible the 11 years rebel war in Sierra Leone – though the minister refused to specifically point the finger at the political regime during that period.
During the war, he said, there was “a complete breakdown in law and order,” and there were hardly any development until after 2001, when former President Kabbah declared the war over.
Mr Kanu said the TRC report is “a prescription” for everyone in Sierra Leone to know about the cause of the war and to avoid recurrence of such war.
The Minister made this statement at the official launching of the State of Human Rights in Sierra Leone 2007 at the YMCA hall at Kroobay in Freeetown.
He said the selection of Kroobay for the launching of the report was symbolic, given the fact that people perceive Kroobay as a slum.
He stated that most communities in Sierra Leone are identical to the Kroobay community, saying Kroobay is “75 percent representative of all Sierra Leoneans.”
“I have known Kroobay for the past 45 years, since I was a school boy at the Collegiate Secondary School,” Mr Kanu said. “But there is little or no development in the community, except for the construction of a bypass street a couple of years ago.” Deputizing the Executive Representative of the Secretary General, Benedict Sannoh noted that the things that ignited the war in Sierra Leone are still with us, and if something is not done to address them it would lead to repetition.
“Human rights are all about gender equality and access to basic services to enhancing human dignity,” he said. “We cannot move as a nation if the TRC recommendations are not implemented.”
Mr Sannoh added that the Human Rights Commission should not only focus on the statutory aspect of things, but should also play a leadership role in promoting human rights issues throughout the country. In giving the over view of the commission, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Commission Edward Sam outlined that the report handles both the geographical and historical content of Sierra Leone. The commission started off with collaboration, interaction and consultation with all the stakeholders in the country, he noted. Mr Sam said their primary objective was to make sure government complies with all the international treaties that have been signed. He added that his commission was very much instrumental in the passing into law of the gender and child rights bills.
Chairman of the Kroobay steering committee Morray Alieu Kamara said Kroobay community has an estimate of 10,200 inhabitants, 95 percent of which are poor.
The chairman of the occasion, Abdul Tejan Cole, observed that the description of Kroobay by some NGOs as a slum is an indictment to the country, adding that there is a lot to be done under the economic social rights, in spite of some of the bottle necks, Sierra Leone achieved in passing into law certain controversial bills in 2007 and in conducting democratic elections in which people were given the opportunity to exercise their franchise.
By Solomon Rogers