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‘We want to see a constitution which does not grant rights but recognizes them’

- HRC Chairperson

May 28, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRC-SL) yesterday stated that at the end of the review of the 1991 Constitution, the commission would want a constitution which does not grant rights but recognizes them.

At a symposium hosted at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex on the drafting of a position paper by the commission to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), Brima Abdulai Sheriff said the review process presents a perfect opportunity for them to fulfill one of their mandates, which is to advice government on draft legislations which may affect human rights.

He noted that the HRC-SL was aware of the importance of the process, the reason they set up an internal committee in March 2014 to collate and channel their contribution.

“The commission has also secured the services of a consultant to guide the process of preparing a well thought out position paper to the CRC. We want to, at the end of the day, see that we have a constitution which does not grant rights, but recognizes them,” he said.

Commissioner Sheriff maintained that the commission remains committed to actualizing their vision of a Sierra Leone where a culture of human rights prevails and the people respect the rule of law and live in peace and dignity.

Also, Chairman of the CRC, Justice Edmond Cowan, stressed that they were not rewriting the whole constitution but reviewing it, and urged the cooperation of everyone because “it is a national issue”.

He urged the HRC-SL to look critically at constitutions in other countries in putting together their position paper because, according to him, not every proposal sent to the CRC would be in the new constitution.

Earlier, Yasmin Jusu Sheriff, who chaired the event, called on the attention of participants to focus on the background to the review process, which according to her was prescribed by the Lome Peace Accord.

The Accord ended the 11 years conflict in Sierra Leone, and among other things stipulated that a new constitution should be written following a review from the 1991 Constitution, in order to address numerous issues of governance, justice, gender equity and human rights.