January 29, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) has assured the people of Sierra Leone of a robust police strategy for the protection of children across the country, noting that it is the constitutional responsibility of the SLP to ensure that the rights and security of Sierra Leoneans are protected.
Francis Allieu Munu made the pronouncement yesterday at police headquarters while receiving 67 motorbikes and a Toyota vehicle from UNICEF as support to the Family Support Unit of the police to facilitate the monitoring and responding to violence against vulnerable children across the country.
“These [motorbikes and vehicle] will boost the capacity of the FSU in dealing with issues relating to children who are in ‘contact’ with the law either as child victims or witnesses to crime, among others,” said the police chief.
“I want to thank UNICEF and other donors, and I hope our strategic collaboration in this area will add more smiles to the faces of vulnerable children seeking justice. This is part of our aspirations in carrying out our responsibility but more especially in providing a safe environment for women and children.”
He continued: “The SLP has established Family Support Units in various communities across the country and officers stationed in these units have been doing their best but they are faced with logistical challenges, which is why we have been working with other development partners including UNICEF, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs to address those challenges.”
I.G. Munu described the donation as very timely, especially as FSU personnel in remote communities find it difficult to follow up on certain matters as a result of lack of mobility.
Children justice system, he said, is very new in most communities across Sierra Leone, which is why they are collectively engaging community and traditional leaders for a proper justice system for children.
He added that the SLP will do whatever is necessary to protect and promote the welfare of women and children in the country.
Head of UNICEF in Sierra Leone, Geoff Wiffin, said a significant number of children in the country are in conflict with the law, noting that only last year almost eleven thousand (11,000) cases relating to children and women were reported by the FSU, of which 23 percent consisted of sexual violence and 74 percent were emotional, economic and physical violence.
“The sad truth is that even as we meet today, a child is at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation in communities,” said the UNICEF country boss. “The cases are often either not reported and even when they are reported accessing justice is a challenge. It is hoped that the Ministry of Social Welfare and the FSU will continue strengthening their collaboration in having a social worker seconded to the FSU.”