Minority Leader cautions ministers
July 3, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
As the long-awaited protocols to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the rights of women in Africa, known as the Maputo Protocols, were yesterday ratified by Parliament, Minority Leader of the House cautioned cabinet ministers for signing agreements on behalf of Sierra Leoneans without the consent of MPs.
Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai said ministers should sign agreements with some reservations that they will seek the consent of Sierra Leoneans, especially parliamentarians, who are “legally representing their people”.
“In signing agreements on behalf of Sierra Leone, there is always a window for consultations which you should use to educate people of this country, and should not wait when the country is missing out on important things then you come here with rush and pressure for a speedy ratification,” she cautioned.
Hon. Lahai said the country has implemented most of what is contained in the protocols, including the rights of women and children, noting that the convention only needed domestication after which the government will then write to the African Union (AU) for amendments.
She maintained that 34 years after ratification, the country should learn from other countries.
“We may have missed out benefits for the failure to ratify these protocols but we will achieve them with time,” said Hon. Lahai. “This should be a payback time for MPs to go back and educate their constituents on the protocols and not to put the document in our shelves, especially on the issue of the FGM initiation. The age limit for FGM should be 18, as at that time they will be able to take decision for themselves. So failing to comply with the law, parliamentarians should not be involved.”
Earlier in his presentation, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Alhaji Moijueh Kaikai, said the Charter calls on all states to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and to ensure the protection of their rights as stipulated in international declarations and conventions.
He said the document recognizes regional and international human rights instruments and African practices consistent with international norms on human and people’s rights as being important reference points for the application and interpretation of the African Charter.
He added that women’s rights have been recognized and guaranteed in all international human rights instruments, noting that the Charter will ensure the rights of women are promoted, realized and protected in order to enable them to enjoy fully all their human rights.