February 20, 2015 Patrick J. Kamara
Commissioners and staff of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) yesterday commenced a two-day training on how to carry out effective monitoring and research activities with a view to investigating, identifying, improving and proffering recommendations which will inform the promotion and protection of human rights across the country.
The training, held at the Country Lodge hotel at Hill Station and facilitated by Irish Aid, targeted staff in the Monitoring and Research Directorate of the HRCSL to enhance their capacity in publishing the commission’s annual State of Human Rights report.
Speaking at the ceremony, vice chairperson of the commission and chairperson for Education, Communication and Training, Mrs. Daphine Olu-Williams, said since the establishment of the commission they have not published anything on thematic issues as a result of lack of capacity in undertaking investigative research and reporting.
She noted that with the existing monitoring and research framework in place, the commission had been able to monitor human rights violations in places like correctional centers, police cells and other detention facilities, to ensure compliance with minimum standards for the protection of human rights in the country.
Commissioner Olu-Williams said human rights issues in the country remain a fundamental challenge to the work of the commission due to inadequate capacity of their staff. She said they were on a capacity drive as the HRCSL Act of 2004 mandates them to produce annual report and to ensure citizens enjoy their fundamental human rights.
She maintained the work of the commission was being hampered by both human and material resources, adding that though they have a broad mandate they would prioritize thematic issues like paying close attention to correctional centers across the country, thus ensuring that the prisons do not only comply with, but also meet both national and international standards.