May 30, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL) has expressed grave concern over alleged human rights abuses and exploitation of workers in the country.
CHRDSL’s Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma, stated that workers in Sierra Leone are face with issues that are procedurally unfair and illegal, but the authorities remain apathetic to them.
He said it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that workers are not subjected to practices that border on modern day slave-like condition, adding that they believe that many conflicts are sparked by failure to protect human rights, while the trauma that results from severe human rights violations often leads to new human rights violations.
“Many workers in the country do not have their employment rights upheld. They may be bullied or discriminated against by supervisors or managers, experience problems obtaining their pay, have excessive workloads, and are not treated with dignity or respect,” he said.
He noted that although the country’s 1991 Constitution enshrines freedom of association, health and safety at work, fair working conditions, equal pay for equal work and fair compensation, many of the important laws regulating the labour market in the country date back to 1960, and are totally irrelevant to the present context.
He opined that there had been a spike in reports about workplace violations, such as physical abuse, committed by foreign investors on local and government employers, but that the sad reality is that many more unemployed labourers wait at the front gates of these foreign firms, begging for jobs.
“We at CHRDSL are aware that Sierra Leone like many other African countries taking steps into becoming self-sufficient and economically viable entities and have taken steps to ensure attractive, investor-friendly policies, which have been detrimental to the indigenous workers. We are also aware that The United Nations Guiding Principles are not, in themselves, legal requirements on businesses,” he stated.
Mr. Fatoma called on the government, international agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UN-Human Rights to include and prioritise the removal of all forms of human right abuses at the workplace in their programmes, in order to end abuse at all levels of employment in Sierra Leone.