The Human Rights Commission Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has released their first human rights report entitled the state of the Human Rights Reports in the country
Explaining about the report to the press yesterday at the Commission’s headquarters, its chairman Mrs Jamesina King disclosed that the commission covered activities from January- December 2007 as they looked at the achievements, challenges and state of human rights in the country.
The Commission observed that despite the provision of the right to life as provided for in Article 6 of the international covenant on civil and political rights, article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 4 of the African Charter as restated in section 15 and 16 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone, there are still unacceptably high rates of infant and maternal mortality. The report states that UNDP human development report 2007 quoting maternal mortality at 1800 per 100,000 live births and infant mortality at 170 per 1,000.
The commission also described as slow the response of the police to a number of armed robbery in the capital leaving a sense of insecurity undermining enjoyment of the right to life, liberty and security of the person. “The failure or delay by the police and courts in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of criminal cases involving deprivation of other forms of property also seriously threatens this right” the commission stated.
The Human Rights Commission also noted that the seditious libel laws in the public order Act of 1965 were used by the government and reports of some paramount chiefs preventing opposition parties from openly campaigning or holding rallies in their chiefdoms
Domestic and sexual violence continued to be a significant source of human Rights violations during the course of the year for which they received many complaints most of which were referred to the family support unit of the police which generally responded well and took action. They also took in to consideration as they put it the controversial practice of female genital cutting as there were reports of politicians sponsoring mass initiation.
Across the country, the commission reported, children continue to be detained with adults in contravention of the international minimum standards on juvenile justice and national law. “This situation is due to the fact that in the whole of Sierra Leone there are only two juvenile remand facilities (in Bo and Freetown) and a single approved school. Inspite of the involvement of the justice sector development in training justices of the peace, in certain places high court sittings were irregular due to shortage of personel as in Moyamba there had been no high court sittings for over six months mainly because of the lack of state prosecutors.The commission though yesterday also presented the human rights report to President Koroma at State House.