By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mamadi Gobeh Kamara last Friday April 22, launched the implementation plan and reporting matrix of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), recommendations.
The launching event which took place at Radison Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown was funded by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Delivering her keynote address, the Deputy Foreign Minister, said since the 3rd Cycle review of the UPR, the country has continued to make important and notable strives in actualising human rights vision as a government, nothing that everybody witnessed the abolition of the death penalty and the abolition of the criminal libel law.
She said the government has launched the White Paper of the Constitutional Review, nothing that if the review is completed it will address a number of human rights issues.
She said the country is on track and that government remains firmly committed to enhance that its status as far as human rights is concern.
She also stated that Sierra Leone, as one of the United Nations Member States, the government is under obligation to report on the implementation of the recommendations of the 3rd session of the UPR.
She further pointed out that, the UPR is a key instrument in positioning Sierra Leone as a rebrand nation with a standard practices of human rights and as a government they were fully committed to supporting the UPR process thus, encouraged all working on the document to make meaningful contributions so that the country will continue to make gains.
“With commitment, we can turn dark yesterday of justice to a bright tomorrow of justice,” she said.
Also speaking, Senior Human Rights Adviser at the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Christian Mukosa said the
UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council and OHCHR facilitates its activities which involved a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.
He said the UPR provides the opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve on the human rights situation in their respective countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
He said the international community including the UN Country Team assist in implementing the recommendations and conclusions regarding capacity-building and technical assistance and the effectiveness of such engagements in pursuit of a common goal requires national and international cooperation.
He said in February 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a communication to the Minister of Foreign
Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone highlighting areas requiring particular attention over the next four and a half years prior to the fourth cycle of the UPR of Sierra Leone and offered technical support if needed.
He said in November 2021, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation launched the National Reporting Mechanism on the Sierra Leone.
He said Sierra Leone is a party to several core international human rights instruments and therefore, the country is obliged to translate its human rights commitments contained in international treaties to concrete actions and ensures periodic reporting to the relevant human rights treaty monitoring bodies and the Human Rights Council.
“The United Nations through the work of its specialised agencies, will continue to support the efforts of the government to ensure the fulfillment of Sierra Leone’s reporting obligations and my office is at your disposal for any clarification related to strengthening the cooperation and dialogue necessary to facilitate implementation at the national level of recommendations resulting from human rights mechanisms,” he said.
He said Sierra Leone has successfully submitted three reports for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycles in 2011, 2016, and 2021, which manifests Sierra Leone’s commitment to meeting its international obligations.
“Let me express my sincere appreciation to the Government for enacting a law which expunged the death penalty on 8 October 2021 in fulfilment of its pledge during the third cycle of the UPR review. In the same spirit, we encourage the Government to implement the recommendations and the remaining two pledges regarding the review of provisions applicable to children and international standards on child rights. I also encourage Sierra Leone to submit due reports to the various UN treaty bodies,” he said.
Representative from the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Thomas Freeman, said the launching event was important to government’s commitment in strengthening and improving human rights records in the country.
He said the government was taking concrete actions that introduce enabling policies and with no doubt Sierra Leone respects international laws.
He said there are positive and impressive records of the government commitment in promoting human rights in Sierra Leone, and that it was evidence in the abolition of the death penalty from the law books and also the removal of the libel law.
He said recently, the government’s White Paper of constitutional reform was launched, disclosing that most of the recommendations of the White Paper are bothered on human rights issues.
He said the UPR is indeed a process which involves the periodic review of human rights records.
He said the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, is the lead administration of justice in Sierra Leone and their key priorities is gaining public trust and confidence in the justice system, improve access to justice, strengthen linkages between justice sector institutions, establish a sound court infrastructure and implement the social component to the delivery of justice.
Executive Secretary for Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, Joseph Kamara said his office has been very instrumental right from June 8th 2011, 2016 and 2021 in all the UPR process, nothing that if Sierra Leone, take and implement the UPR recommendations as they are the country will be able to fight poverty and not only enhance human rights records but at the same time ensure that the move towards prosperity.