July 3, 2015 By Ishmael Bayoh
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) yesterday (July 2) in Bo, southern Sierra Leone, validated its Position Paper it will be presenting to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC).
The commission, as the national human rights institution which has as one of its functions ‘to review existing legislation, has a critical role in ensuring that the revised constitution is human rights friendly by taking on board international human rights standards, providing safeguards against violations of human rights and guarantees for the full enjoyment of human rights for citizens and non-citizens.
In March 2014, HRCSL set up its own in-house Constitutional Review Committee (HRCSL-CRC) to, among other things, work to ensure that the commission makes a detailed, comprehensive and timely submission to the CRC. In view of that, a consultant was recruited in May this year to work alongside the committee to prepare the commission’s Position Paper by taking on board issues raised in the commission’s 2007 submission to the Peter Tucker Commission, and any other emerging issues of human rights concerns that must be entrenched in the revised Constitution.
Recognizing the role of HRCSL as a public-centred institution, the committee organized a symposium in May to garner the views of the public as to the human rights concerns that must be addressed in the Constitution. Presenters and participants (from across the four regions) were drawn from different facets of society, to give a holistic outlook of the issues that should be considered by the commission for inclusion into the document.
Following this, a draft of the Position Paper was produced by the consultant in consultation with the HRCSL-CRC. A consultative approach was used in producing the draft Position Paper. However, being an institutional submission, HRCSL should ensure that the views reflected are all encompassing with future projections, taking into cognizance the fact that a constitutional process is not a regular occurrence.
The consultant, Yasmin Jusu Sheriff, did a presentation of the draft document, which was followed by discussions. All comments and concerns would be thoroughly analyzed and approved for inclusion into the paper.
The Constitutional Review Committee commenced operations in 2013 with the mandate to ‘review the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone using the Constitutional Review Commission Report submitted to Government in January 2008 as a working document’.