October 2, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone has opened its new office in Makeni to serve the northern region of the country in the protection and promotion of human rights.
During the ceremony on Wednesday, 29 September, both Paramount Chief of Safroko Limba Chiefdom, Alimamy Dura III and Chief Administration of the Makeni City Council, William Alpha, called on the commission to make its presence felt not only in the regional headquarter towns but also in chiefdoms.
They stated that the presence of the commission across the country, especially in remote areas, would help them reach out to more vulnerable people whose human rights have been trampled upon.
HRC-SL Commissioner in charge of Regional Affairs, Bryma Kebbie, said their previous office was located in an inconspicuous location which proved very difficult for complainants to access, adding: “Because of that people used different methods in resolving their complaints.”
The new office is located at 47 Yiks Road.
Also, Local Unit Commander of the Rogbane Police Station, Chief Superintendent Gibril Turay, stated that the concepts of superiority of the law, equality before the law and respect for human rights are central in daily policing.
He noted that they have succeeded in incorporating human rights practices into the curriculum at police training schools and in their treatment of suspects in police cells.
The commission’s chairperson, Brima A. Sheriff, explained that the Makeni office was established to service the five districts of Bombali, Port Loko, Kambia, Koinadugu and Tonkolili in the northern region.
He said over time the commission came to the realisation that human rights violations in the north are on the increase.
According to him, the remote location of their former office was not helpful as it offered the general public very little access, prompting most residents to refer their complaints to politicians rather than going to the commission, which has the statutory mandate to address issues of human rights across the country.
“There are reports of bonded labour, banishment, sexual and gender-based violence to name a few, that continue to frequent our northern regional updates,” he said.
Several speakers, including Senior District Officer Bombali District, Mohamed Sheick Kargbo, Paramount Chief of Safroko Limba Chiefdom, Alimamy Dura 111, and Chief Administration of the Makeni City Council, William Alpha, called on HRC-SL to make their presence felt in not only the regional headquarters, Makeni, but also in chiefdoms, to provide service to more clients.