September 14, 2020
By Hassan Gbassay
The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) has in their second edition of a nationwide human rights monitoring project report revealed that, the Government of Sierra Leone has spent the sum of sixty billion, seven hundred and twenty million, four hundred and ninety four thousand five hundred and thirty two Leones (Le60,720,494,532),equivalent to six million two hundred and sixty thousand seven hundred and seventy two United States Dollars.
Although CARL’s monitors could not obtain proper detail on how the said money was expended, according to the report, findings were that it was used to pay contractors, who provided food supplies and other essential services, as well as running cost for NaCOVERC.
As part of their recommendations, the right organisation called on security personnel to demonstrate high level of professionalism in the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.
The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) funded CARL with $40,000 for a project aimed at monitoring and documenting human rights violations, ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of Sierra Leone’s Covid-19 response funds, and supporting social mobilization efforts through media outreach.
Speaking during a presser at their Circular Road Office in Freetown, Project Coordinator at CARL, Abu Bakarr Kallay, says in May 2020, they signed a six-month contract with OSIWA to support government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
He said as part of the project they also monitored human rights violations, how government was receiving and spending COVID-19 funds, how government was taking care of quarantine homes across the country and also helping to raise awareness about the virus.
He said the second edition report covers the month of June and July, noting that some of their findings showed that there have been a significant improvement in the area of managing quarantine homes and that the living standard of people in those homes has improved compared to when the virus just broke out in the country.
He said they also found out that human rights violations have considerably reduced, stating that at the start some security personnel were violating citizens’ rights in the process of enforcing COVID-19 regulations.
He said the major change now has to do with the enforcement of the face mask regulations, noting that due to the lack of willingness by citizens to use face mask, they have seen some security personnel attempting to use some force.
He said the significant challenge in the fight against COVID-19 had been the delay in paying risk allowances to all health workers responding to the COVID-19, adding that the delay always resulted in threat of strike actions by health workers.
They commended improvement in managing quarantine and treatment centres, and urged the government to ensure that drugs and other supplies for non-covid diseases are provided at all public health facilities.
They also called on the public to adhere to government regulations, particularly in the use of masks in public places and to practice social distancing at all times.
They further commended the efforts of government in paying risk allowances, but urged the Ministry of Finance and NaCOVERC to ensure that all health care workers are paid their risk allowances on time.
CARL called on the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the Independent Police Complaints Board to speedily investigate allegations of human rights violations by security officers.