Delay to appoint Commissioners…

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CHRDI questions gov’t willingness to protect and guarantee citizen’s rights

January 1, 2019

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has questioned the willingness on the part of the government to protect and guarantee the rights of citizens due to the delay in appointing those who should serve as commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRC-SL).

The organization’s Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma, told Concord Times that the government has rendered the commission handicapped to go into full operation to investigate human rights abuses and violations because of the lack of commissioners.

“The continue delay to institute a working commission by having in place the five commissioners shows a lack of willingness on the part of government to continue to protect and guarantee our rights as per the constitution and other international instruments of which we are signatory to,” he said.

Barely two months into office, President Julius Maada Bio dissolved all boards and commissions, including the HRC-SL. The move to get rid of the three commissioners was criticized by civil society organizations and human rights defenders.

Several prominent individuals were nominated by the public following a notice from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice office in 2018, calling for such.

A total of ten (10) people were interviewed by a panel set up in 2018 for the five vacant positions with seven names recommended and gazetted for 21 days as prescribed in the HRC-SL Act of 2004.

Concord Times learnt that the names gazetted were submitted three weeks ago to President Bio for appointment of the five would-be commissioners.

Mr. Fatoma said they are worried about the ugly development in the human right sector and urged the president and his government to comply with international norms by appointing the five commissioners without further delay.

“We have several human rights abuses in the country that are undocumented and unrecorded because of the lack of commissioners.  We understand that the names have been gazetted but we are yet to see who the five commissioners would be. We are urging them to immediately present to the people a constituted commission with qualified people so that we will have a workable national human rights body,” Mr. Fatoma urged.

The CHRDI Chief Executive urged development partners to have the government respect national and international laws in protecting the rights of all by having a constituted HRC-SL.