‘Government, UN agencies paying lip service to issues of the aged’

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December 14, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Executive Director of Sierra Leone Organisation for the Welfare of the Aged has accused the government and United Nations agencies in the country of paying lip service to issues affecting the aged in the country.

According to Deacon Ben Gbenda, older persons were so neglected in Sierra Leone that their rights were being largely ignored or violated as a result of the absence of a dedicated legal framework.

“Even though everyone is born to be equal, many a time, the rights of older persons are taken away from them for no good reason. There are hindrances to the attainment of rights of older persons,” he said.

He said they were yet to see a national policy enacted in Sierra Leone for the aged and the country honouring its international treaty obligations to the aged.

Mr. Gbenda opined that older persons in the country were the most unfortunate segment of the population in terms of rights protection.

He claimed that the rights of the children, youth, women, prisoners and persons with disabilities were being protected by the government, while nothing is being done for older persons.

“We see this as total discrimination. Older people are being discriminated against. We should all know that older persons’ issues are human rights issues. We need to do more to give active attention to rights of older persons,” he said and added that everyone was aspiring to age.

He maintained that in-as-much-as it was the responsibility of government to ensure that the rights of older persons were protected, it should also take collaborative effort from all stakeholders to create a system which would make provision for older persons to enjoy their rights.

As Sierra Leone joined other countries around the world to observe this year’s International Human Rights Day last Saturday (10 December), Mr. Gbenda expressed fervent hope that government and other stakeholders would continue to collaborate to ensure the protection of the rights of the aged in the country.