December 13, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Attorney General and Minister of Justice has stated that older persons should not be seen as disposable materials, as they have a lot to offer for the progress of society.
According Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, the country’s 1991 Constitution guaranteed the fundamental human rights of older persons and that even though everyone should benefit under the constitution, there were certain type of laws, respect and rights that belongs specifically to the elderly.
He was speaking last Saturday (December 10) at the King George VI Memorial Home at Grafton during an event organised by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone to commemorate this year’s International Human Rights Day on the theme: “Respect the rights of Older Persons to live in dignity’”.
In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which reaffirmed global commitment for the protection and promotion of human rights.
The International Human Rights Day provides the opportunity to raise awareness on human rights issues, with a global theme selected each year and adopted to reflect local context.
Mr. Kamara emphasised the urgent need to adopt a right based approach in addressing issues affecting older persons and promised government’s compliance to people’s human rights, especially the aged.
“Let your voice, your conduct and work resonate that effect of the right of the aged. Let us respect the rights of older persons. Let us stand up for somebody’s rights, especially the elderly so that somebody will stand up for our own rights tomorrow,” he said.
He noted that elderly people were normally subjected to violence within the context of society and that they were not getting the respect they deserve from the younger folks.
The former Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) spoke about the need to provide free healthcare for the aged and assured that government was putting mechanisms in place to make a better life for the elderly people, citing the healthy scheme which was being put together by the national Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT).
Also, Chairperson of HRC-SL, Brima Abdulai Sheriff, said they decided to choose a local theme in order to reflect on issues affecting the welfare of older persons in the country, including inadequate legislation and policies to protect their rights to live in dignity and respect, inadequate facilities to address their needs, late payment of pensions, lack of adequate Medicare and poor social security services.
He stated that the selection of the theme was a demonstration of the commission’s commitment to stand up for the rights of older persons.
“The Commission wishes to use this platform to encourage, galvanize and showcase what each of us can do to stand up for the rights of older persons. As a nation, we need to critically examine the challenges that prevent older persons from enjoying their rights to dignity and respect to the fullest,” he said.
While recognising the government effort in addressing the welfare of older persons by implementing the Social Protection Strategy launched by President Ernest Bai Koroma in 2015, Mr. Sheriff urged government to take measures to address the huge challenges in the realization of human rights, especially in the provision of services to improve the quality of life for older persons.
He also urged government to strengthen the health sector to enable it provide adequate and affordable health services with special provision for the older persons, who cannot afford to pay their medical bills.