Republic of Sierra Leone
Republic of Sierra Leone
Joined United Nations: 27 September 1961
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 18 January 2013
5,485,998 (July 2012 est.)
President and Vice President elected by popular vote for a five-year
term (eligible for a second term); election last held 11 August 2007
and 17 November 2012
Next scheduled election: 2017
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
According to the Sierra Leone Constitution, the President is
both the Chief of State and Head of Government
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Temne 35%, Mende 31%, Limba 8%, Kono 5%, Kriole 2% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the
Freetown area in the late-18th century; also known as Krio), Mandingo 2%, Loko 2%, other 15% (includes refugees from
Liberia's recent civil war, and small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians) (2008 census)
Muslim 60%, Christian 10%, indigenous beliefs 30%
Constitutional democracy with 3 provinces and 1 area; Legal system is based on English law and customary laws indigenous to local
tribes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive: President and Vice President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held
17 November 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
Legislative: Unicameral Parliament (124 seats; 112 members elected by popular vote, 12 filled by paramount chiefs elected in
separate elections; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 17 November 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
Judicial: Supreme Court; Appeals Court; High Court
English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in
the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown
area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)
The Temne were living along the northern coast of present-day Sierra Leone when the first Portuguese navigators reached the
region in 1460. European contacts with Sierra Leone were among the first in West Africa. In 1462, Portuguese explorer Pedro da
Cintra mapped the hills surrounding what is now Freetown Harbour, naming shaped formation Serra Lyoa (Portuguese for Lion
Mountains). Its Italian rendering is Sierra Leone, which became the country's name. During the 1700s the major slave trading base
in Sierra Leone was Bunce Island, located about 20 miles into the Sierra Leone River, now called the "Freetown Harbour." The
British slave traders on Bunce Island sent many of their captives to the rice plantations of South Carolina and Georgia where their
rice-farming skills made them particularly valuable. In 1787 a plan was implemented to settle some of London's Black Poor in
Sierra Leone in what was called the "Province of Freedom." A number of Black Poor and White women arrived off the shore of
Sierra Leone on May 15, 1787. They were accompanied by some English tradesmen. This was organized by the St George's Bay
Company, composed of British philanthropists who preferred it as a solution to continuing to financially support them in London.
Many of the Black poor were Black Loyalists, enslaved Africans who had been promised their freedom for joining the British Army
during the American Revolution, though they also included other African and Asian inhabitants of London. Disease and hostility from
the indigenous people nearly eliminated the first group of colonists. Through the intervention of Thomas Peters, the Sierra Leone
Company was established to relocate another group of nearly 2,000 Black Loyalists, originally settled in Nova Scotia. Given the
most barren land in Nova Scotia, many had died from the harsh winters there. They established a settlement at Freetown in 1792.
This settlement led by Thomas Peters was joined by other groups of freed slaves and became one of Britain's first colonies in West
Africa. Thousands of slaves were returned to or liberated in Freetown. Most chose to remain in Sierra Leone. These returned
Africans were from all areas of Africa. They joined the previous settlers and together became known as Creole or Krio people. In
the early 20th century, Freetown served as the residence of the British governor who also ruled the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and
the Gambia settlements. Sierra Leone served as the educational centre of British West Africa as well. Fourah Bay College,
established in 1827, rapidly became a magnet for English-speaking Africans on the West Coast. For more than a century, it was the
only European-style university in western Sub-Saharan Africa. The colonial history of Sierra Leone was not placid. The indigenous
people mounted several unsuccessful revolts against British rule and Krio domination. Of these, the most notable was Bai Bureh
rebellion against British rule. Most of the 20th century history of the colony was peaceful; however, one notable event during the
20th century was the granting of a monopoly on mineral mining to the De Beers run Sierra Leone Selection Trust in 1935, which
was scheduled to last for 99 years. The 1951 constitution provided a framework for decolonization. Local ministerial responsibility
was introduced in 1953, when Sir Milton Margai was appointed Chief Minister. He became Prime Minister after successful
completion of constitutional talks in London in 1960. On April 27, 1961, Sir Milton Margai led Sierra Leone to independence from
the United Kingdom. In a closely contested general elections in March 1967, Sierra Leone Governor General Henry Josiah
Lightfoot Boston declared Siaka Stevens, candidate of the All People's Congress (APC) and Mayor of Freetown as the new prime
minister of Sierra Leone. Within a few hours after taking office, Stevens was ousted in a bloodless coup led by Brigadier David
Lansana, the Commander of The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, on grounds that the determination of office should await
the election of the tribal representatives to the house. Stevens was placed under house arrest and Martial law was declared. A
group of senior military officers overrode this action by seizing control of the government on March 23, 1968, arresting Brigadier
Lansana, and suspending the constitution. The return to civilian rule led to by-elections beginning in the fall of 1968 and the
appointment of an all-APC cabinet. Tranquillity was not completely restored. In November 1968, Stevens declared a state of
emergency after provincial disturbances. In March 1971 the government survived an unsuccessful military coup and in July 1974, it
uncovered an alleged military coup plot. On April 19, 1971, parliament declared Sierra Leone to be a Republic, Siaka Stevens,
then prime minister, became the nation's first president. In October 1990, President Momoh set up a constitutional review
commission to review the 1978 one-party constitution with a view to broadening the existing political process, guaranteeing
fundamental human rights and the rule of law, and strengthening and consolidating the democratic foundation and structure of the
nation. The commission, in its report presented January 1991, recommended re-establishment of a multi-party system of
government. Based on that recommendation, a constitution was approved by Parliament in July 1991 and ratified in September; it
became effective on October 1, 1991. On may 1, Captain Valentine Strasser took over as the chairman of the NPRC and Head of
State of Sierra Leone. A 26-year-old Sergeant Solomon Musa, one of the leaders of the coup and a best friend of Strasser took
over as Vice-Chaiman of the NPRC. Many Sierra Leoneans nationwide rush into the streets to welcome the NPRC Administration
from the twenty-three year dictatorial APC regime, that was perceived as corrupt. The NPRC junta immediately suspended the
1991 Constitution, declared a state of emergency, limited freedom of speech, and freedom of the press and enacted a rule-by-
decree policy. On January 6, 1999, another unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government by the AFRC resulted in massive
loss of life and destruction of property in Freetown and its environs. In October, the United Nations agreed to send peacekeepers
to help restore order and disarm the rebels. The first of the 6,000-member force began arriving in December, and the Security
Council voted in February 2000 to increase the UN force to 11,000 (and subsequently to 13,000). In May, when nearly all
Nigerian forces had left and UN forces were attempting to disarm the RUF in eastern Sierra Leone, Sankoh's forces clashed with
the UN troops, and some 500 peacekeepers were taken hostage as the peace accord effectively collapsed. On January 18, 2002,
President Kabbah declared the civil war officially over; an estimated 50,000 people were killed, hundreds of people had their arms
or legs hacked off by rebels, and over 500,000 people were displaced into neighboring countries. That same year, the Sierra Leone
Government and the United Nations agreed to set up war crimes court in Freetown. Elections were finally held in May, 2002.
President Kabbah was re-elected, gaining 70% of the vote and his Sierra Leone People's party won a majority of the parliamentary
seats. Ernest Bai Koroma (born October 2, 1953 in Makeni, Bombali District, Sierra Leone) is the 4th and current President of
Sierra Leone. He was sworn in as president on September 17, 2007, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off
election. He is the leader of the All People's Congress (APC) and was minority leader in parliament prior to becoming President.
Koroma was formally inaugurated in Freetown on November 15, 2007 at a ceremony attended by five other African leaders. On
this occasion, he promised to fight corruption and emphasized the importance of changing people's attitudes towards corruption. By
2007, there had been an increase in the number of drug cartels, many from Colombia, using Sierra Leone as a base to ship drugs on
to Europe.It was feared that this might lead to increased corruption and violence and turn the country, like neighbouring Guinea-
Bissau, into a narco state. In 2008, an aircraft carrying almost 700 kg of cocaine was caught at Freetown’s airport and 19 people,
including customs officials, were arrested, and the minister for transport is still suspended. General elections were held in Sierra
Leone on 17 November 2012. The result was a victory for incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People's Congress
(APC), who received 58.7% of the vote. The APC also won 67 of the 112 elected seats in Parliament. Results showed Koroma
winning in the first round of voting, receiving 58.7% of the vote against 37.4% for the SLPP candidate, Bio. If he had received less
than 55% of the vote, a second round would have been necessary. Following the announcement of results, Koroma was promptly
sworn in for another term as President on 23 November 2012. He said that he would "continue to attract investment" and "continue
to fight corruption".
Source: Wikipedia: Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is an extremely poor nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. While it possesses substantial mineral,
agricultural, and fishery resources, its physical and social infrastructure has yet to recover from the civil war, and serious social
disorders continue to hamper economic development. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture.
Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. Alluvial
diamond mining remains the major source of hard currency earnings, accounting for nearly half of Sierra Leone's exports. The fate
of the economy depends upon the maintenance of domestic peace and the continued receipt of substantial aid from abroad, which is
essential to offset the severe trade imbalance and supplement government revenues. The IMF completed a Poverty Reduction and
Growth Facility program that helped stabilize economic growth and reduce inflation and in 2010 approved a new program worth
$45 million over three years. Political stability has led to a revival of economic activity such as the rehabilitation of bauxite and rutile
mining, which are set to benefit from planned tax incentives. A number of offshore oil discoveries were announced in 2009 and
2010. The development on these reserves, which could be significant, is still several years away.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Sierra Leone)
The president is the head of state, the head of government and the commander-in-chief of the The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed
Forces. The president appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers (including the vice president), which must be approved by the
Parliament. The president is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two five-year terms. To be elected president of Sierra Leone,
a candidate must gain at least 55 percent of the vote. If no candidate gets the 55 percent requirement, there will be a second-round
runoff between the top two candidates with the most votes in the first round. For qualification to be elected President of Sierra
Leone, the person must be a natural born citizen of Sierra Leone; Should have attained the age of 40 years; should be a member of
a political party; and Should be able to speak and read the English language. The current president of Sierra Leone is Ernest Bai
Koroma. Koroma was sworn in as president on September 17, 2007, shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off
The Parliament of Sierra Leone is unicameral, with 124 seats. Each of the country's fourteen districts is represented in parliament.
112 members are elected concurrently with the presidential elections; the other twelve seats are filled by Paramount chief from each
of the country's twelve administrative districts. All members serve five-year terms. General elections were held in Sierra Leone on
17 November 2012. The result was a victory for incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People's Congress (APC),
who received 58.7% of the vote. The APC also won 67 of the 112 elected seats in Parliament. Results showed Koroma winning in
the first round of voting, receiving 58.7% of the vote against 37.4% for the SLPP candidate, Bio. If he had received less than 55%
of the vote, a second round would have been necessary. Following the announcement of results, Koroma was promptly sworn in
for another term as President on 23 November 2012. He said that he would "continue to attract investment" and "continue to fight
The Judiciary Section 120(1) of the Constitution states that the judicial power of Sierra Leone shall be vested in the judiciary. The
judiciary of Sierra Leone, headed by the Chief Justice comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
These constitute the Superior Court of Jurisdiction. The inferior courts comprise the Magistrates courts and the Local courts. The
Magistrates Courts exist in each district. Local courts administer customary law. The president appoints and parliament approves
justices for the three courts. The current Chief Justice is Ade Renner Thomas. He was appointed to the position by former president
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Source: Wikipedia: Sierra Leone
As domestic fighting among disparate ethnic groups, rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and
Sierra Leone gradually abate, the number of refugees in border areas has begun to slowly dwindle; UN Mission in Sierra Leone
(UNAMSIL) has maintained over 4,000 peacekeepers in Sierra Leone since 1999; Sierra Leone considers excessive Guinea's
definition of the flood plain limits to define the left bank boundary of the Makona and Moa rivers and protests Guinea's continued
occupation of these lands including the hamlet of Yenga occupied since 1998.
Refugees (country of origin): 8,046 (Liberia) (2011)
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Sierra Leone
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. In 2007, in peaceful multiparty
presidential and parliamentary elections, the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) won a majority in parliament, and citizens elected
party leader Ernest Bai Koroma president. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
Major human rights problems included prolonged detention and imprisonment under harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and
jails; widespread official corruption in all branches of government; and trafficking in persons, including for child labor.
Other human rights problems included abusive treatment by police; arbitrary arrest and detention; some restrictions on freedoms of press
and assembly; discrimination and violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation; official and societal
discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals; discrimination against people with disabilities; and vigilante
The Anti-Corruption Commission aggressively investigated and prosecuted cases of corruption in a nonpartisan fashion and without
political interference; however, impunity remained a serious concern.
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22 February 2011
Human Rights Council
Agenda items 2 and 10
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High
Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Technical assistance and capacity-building
Assistance to Sierra Leone in the field of human rights
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Sierra Leone has made progress in building its capacity for the promotion and protection of human rights. The enactment of some
crucial laws in the fields of women and children rights has improved the legal framework to protect the rights of vulnerable groups.
However, customs and traditions perpetuate harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and discrimination against women.
Socio-economic conditions remain extremely challenging. Financial and capacity constraints have limited the ability of the national human
rights institutions to comply with their tasks, negatively impacting the administration of justice, and creating room for impunity. The
constitutional review process has been delayed and crucial recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
including the abolition of the death penalty and amendment of discriminatory legal provisions, have not been implemented. The
Reparations Programme has been affected due to gaps in the financial requirements and lack of political will.
OHCHR has been involved in Sierra Leone since 1998, as part of successive UN missions, including the current United Nations
Integrated Peace-building Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). The Human Rights Section of UNIPSIL has engaged with the Government
in promoting legislation to protect human rights and has supported the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and civil society in
their efforts to advance human rights in the country. The Human Rights Section has engaged in training and advocacy activities with a
wide range of stakeholders and has continuously monitored the human rights situation and provided advice and technical services to
1. This report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council decision 2/102, in which the Council requested the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights to continue with the fulfilment of her activities, in accordance with all previous decisions adopted by
the Commission on Human Rights and to update the relevant reports and studies. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights (OHCHR) had initially interpreted decision 2/102 as extending previous reports of the Commission on Human Rights
and providing for an annual reporting cycle. Until recently, this interpretation had been deemed to have received the tacit approval of
member States. However, an objection was placed on the record in 2010 in the context of another report which also referred to decision
2/102 as the basis for its annual reporting. OHCHR has thus reviewed the said decision, and concluded that the Human Rights Council
sought to fill a technical gap by ensuring that reports which were deemed to have been submitted to the sixty-second session of the
Human Rights Commission would be extended by one year and transferred to the subsequent substantive session of the Human Rights
Council. With this transition period over and an objection now on record with regard to the initial interpretation of annual reporting
cycles, if the Human Rights Council wishes such reporting to be continued, a new Human Rights Council resolution or decision on the
matter should be tabled.
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U.N. Elects Human Rights' Foes to the Human Rights Council
Nov 13 2012 - 2:38pm
The reelection of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council was a positive development in a largely disappointing
election by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) yesterday, in which seven countries with poor human rights records—Cote d’Ivoire,
Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela—were also elected.
According to a Freedom House assessment of the candidates, of the 16 new Council members elected, the above-named seven clearly
fail to meet the Council’s criteria for membership which states that members should “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and
protection of human rights.” All were elected with an overwhelming majority. Council members are elected by the full UNGA in a secret
ballot, with the five regional groups each presenting a slate of candidates. All regional groups, with the exception of the Western Europe
and Other States Group, which includes the United States, ran “clean slates,” meaning that unqualified candidates ran unopposed and
were virtually guaranteed a seat on the Council.
“The election of human-rights abusing countries such as Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Venezuela flies in the face of the very values that the
Council was created to uphold. Their election hurts the Council’s credibility,” said Sarah Trister, author of the report and manager of
congressional affairs at Freedom House. “If every regional group ran a competitive slate for the Council, states would have a real choice
and countries with poor human rights records would be discouraged from throwing their hat in the ring.”
In the past two years, the Council has made notable progress in addressing some of the world’s most pressing human rights concerns,
due in large part to U.S. engagement. The U.S. played an influential role in pushing the body to tackle the horrific human rights situations
in Syria, Libya, Iran and Belarus. It has also guided increased efforts to address global issues of concern including internet freedom and
freedom of association as well as helping to stymie efforts to ban blasphemy under international law.
“The United States is a positive force at the UN Human Rights Council and its leadership at the Council has made a real difference,” said
Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president at Freedom House. “Freedom House welcomes the U.S. reelection and hopes to see this
progress continue in its next term.”
The following countries were also elected to the Council: Brazil, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Japan,
Montenegro, and South Korea.
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18 December 2012
Vanuatu, Sierra Leone and Ghana: Safe havens for war crimes suspects
Legal loopholes in Vanuatu, Sierra Leone and Ghana make all three countries potential safe havens for fugitives suspected of war crime
and crimes against humanity, and urgently need to be closed, Amnesty International said.
In three reports released today as part of its No Safe Haven series, Amnesty International examines in detail how these countries have
potentially left their doors open to those suspected of crimes under international law.
“There is a real risk that suspected war criminals will find safe haven in these countries and escape prosecution for some of the most
serious offences known to humanity,” said Christopher Keith Hall, Senior Legal Adviser for Amnesty International.
“All three countries must take immediate and concrete steps to ensure they do not unwittingly provide refuge to these suspects.”
None of the three countries have provisions in their domestic legislation to enable the authorities, using the rule of universal jurisdiction,
to investigate and prosecute persons suspected of committing crimes under international law abroad.
Universal jurisdiction is an essential tool of international justice. It enables national authorities to investigate and prosecute persons
suspected of committing grave crimes under international law such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced
disappearances and extrajudicial executions.
Although Sierra Leone has defined some crimes under international law as crimes under Sierra Leonean law – including torture, grave
breaches of the Geneva Conventions, recruitment of child soldiers, slavery, use of landmines and weapons particularly hazardous to
children – it has not defined these crimes in accordance with the strictest requirements of international law. In addition, Sierra Leonean
law also provides only a limited form of universal jurisdiction over some crimes, while most crimes under international law including
crimes against humanity, many war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearance remain outside the
scope of Sierra Leonean courts.
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Sierra Leone: 50-Year Sentence for Charles Taylor
May 30, 2012
(New York) – The sentencing of Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison on May 30, 2012 by the Special Court for Sierra Leone is a
landmark in ensuring justice for the victims of Sierra Leone's brutal armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today.
“Crucial in the sentencing was the court’s finding that Charles Taylor's position as head of state was an aggravating factor,” said Elise
Keppler, international justice senior counsel at Human Rights Watch. “This sends a strong signal that the world is increasingly intolerant
of leaders who exploit their positions of power to commit serious crimes in violation of international law.”
Taylor was convicted on April 26, 2012 of planning, aiding, and abetting the commission of all 11 counts of war crimes and crimes
against humanity in the indictment against him.
At sentencing, the Trial Chamber focused on the impact of the crimes on victims. The presiding judge, Richard Lussick, said that Taylor
"has been convicted of aiding and abetting some of the most brutal and heinous crimes in human history," which impacted thousands of
victims "physically, psychologically, and emotionally" and caused them to suffer "irreparable alienation from their communities."
Judge Lussick said that in the jurisprudence of the Special Court, aiding and abetting is considered a lesser form of culpability than direct
commission of crimes. However, he said, a higher sentence was justified because Taylor abused his leadership positions and "betrayed
public confidence" – both as a participant in the peace talks and as president of Liberia – to fuel the conflict in Sierra Leone and exploit
it for personal gain.
Human Rights Watch documented violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the armed conflict in Sierra
Leone and has closely followed the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone since its inception, including producing two reports on its
operations. A Human Rights Watch report on the Taylor trial and its early impact, based on interviews conducted at the court and in
Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2011 and 2012, will be released in the coming months.
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NEW YEAR'S DAY BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA
01 January 2013
2012 was a remarkable year for our country. We conducted four elections on a single day that were acclaimed by the whole world as
meeting international standards of free, fair, credible and transparent election; our economy was lauded as the second hottest economy in
the whole world; our nation was acclaimed as amongst the safest on earth, and in December we were awarded the Millennium Challenge
Corporation Award for good governance, promoting rights and investing in people. These are achievements for all of the people of our
country. I glorify God Almighty for giving this country the faith, strength and endowment to achieve these great feats; I congratulate
every Sierra Leone for this national victory, and I applaud our international partners for their great contributions to the continuing
transformation of our country.
We have set new standards, we are pace setters in Africa, and we now belong to a select group of countries in Africa honored for our
democracy, our economic growth, and our great potentials. We achieved a lot in our Agenda for Change. Now is the time to bring home
the fruits of these achievements; now is the time to do more; now is the time to move on to the Agenda for Prosperity.
Moving forward with the Agenda for Prosperity requires appropriate skills, productive work ethic, discipline and respect for the law.
That is why I am dedicating my second term to combating indiscipline and recklessness; that is why I am dedicating to the Agenda for
Prosperity to improving our human capacity, to ensuring that the citizens of this country, especially the youths, acquire the skills
necessary for greater participation in the transformation of the country.
This is my 2013 New Year resolution: I will work closely with the youths of this country to commence and sustain the Agenda for
Prosperity. This is not only because tomorrow belongs to the youth, but mainly because today also belongs to the youths. The youths
are the most innovative, energetic and creative section of our society; and there is no way this country can prosper without the active
participation of our youths.
Fellow Sierra Leoneans, this is my proclamation for my second and last term: the benefits of the transformation shall be for everyone in
the country; it shall be for every region, every district, and every chiefdom. We will train youths in every region; we will continue with
infrastructural development in every district, and we will do more for agriculture in every chiefdom. We will continue to attract
investments in every sector, from mining, to petroleum, to agriculture, tourism and fisheries.
Development everywhere is the surest road to national inclusion; reaching out to the poor, the unemployed and the vulnerable is the
surest path to national stability; and integrating women and youths into the mainstream of economic and political life is the surest channel
for sustaining our unity, freedom and justice.
I am calling on all Sierra Leoneans, from the APC, SLPP and other political parties, to support these efforts to create a better life for our
people. The time for bickering is over; the time for moving forward is come upon us. My government is a standing invitation to all those
who desire development for this country; our doors are open to all those who seek to fulfill the aspirations of our people for peace,
democracy, and development. From the far-flung corners of the Diaspora to the smallest villages, from the wonderful Loma Mountains
to the great shores of Sulima, let the children of this beautiful country come forth and visibly assert their love for Sierra Leone.
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Statement by the Chairperson, HRCSL on International Human Rights Day, 2012
10 December 2012
Today, December 10, 2012, marks International Human Rights Day, a global celebration marking the 64th Anniversary of the adoption
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly for this
celebration 62 years ago. The first was in 1950, that was, on the 2nd Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human
It is a day for member states to celebrate human rights the world over on a localized global theme.
This is the sixth year that the celebration is being led by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, in partnership with the United
Nations and recently, with the involvement of the Human Rights Working Group and a host of local partners.
The global theme for this year’s celebration is “Inclusion and the right to participate in public life”.
This theme cannot be more appropriate for Sierra Leone, a country in which vulnerable and disadvantaged groups cannot fully
participate in public life because of discrimination and other political, economic, social and cultural barriers.
The catchphrase for this celebration is “my voice counts”, meaning, everyone has the right to be heard and to participate in decision-
making that shapes his/her society and destiny.
Despite significant progress in mainstreaming women issues in our country, the full participation of women in politics and public life still
remains a serious challenge.
The Commission therefore calls on Government to speedily implement the outstanding imperative recommendations of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC), some of which will contribute significantly towards achieving gender equality.
In order to accelerate growth and sustainable development, the Commission urges Government to legislate a gender equality bill, as
advocated for, by the Women’s Forum and other gender advocacy institutions.
This will create a wider space and give more voice to women in the public sphere.
The Commission notes that there has been a delay in the constitutional review process and therefore urges Government to reactivate the
process so as to ensure the repeal or amendment of laws that still serve as a deterrent to their full inclusion in public life and for their
voices to be heard and respected.
A high percentage of youth is out of school, unskilled and not gainfully employed. Much as they have the right to be heard and
participate in public life, they lack adequate capacity to be actively engaged in public discourse.
The Commission remains committed to working with the National Youth Commission to ensure their inclusion and full participation in
A seeming neglected set of people in public life are the aged and those with mental illness, who continue to suffer from the lack of
The Commission calls on Government to pay more attention to the welfare of these categories of people.
Person With Disability also continue to be marginalized in politics as they face stiff barriers. The Commission calls on Government to
fully implement the Persons With Disability Act, 2011 including making the Disability Commission more functional and effective.
Stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS is also another serious barrier to inclusion. Government should fully
implement the National HIV and AIDS Commission Act, 2011 including strengthening the complaint and redress mechanisms for them
and those affected by the pandemic.
HRCSL notes that inclusion and the right to participation can only be realistic and meaningful in an open society and calls on Government
to legislate the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) without further delay.
The Commission is of the view that the passage of this bill will lead to the full realization of fundamental human rights in the country.
Let me conclude by reiterating that HRCSL remains committed to ensuring that the human rights of all in Sierra Leone are protected and
promoted and that everyone’s voice counts.
Let us celebrate this day, as required of us by the global community, by reaffirming the rights of all, including women, children, youth,
persons with disability and the aged, among others, to participate in public life, without discrimination.
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Voter education series: human right protection in Sierra Leone
15th August 2012
On the occasion of the presentation of the 2011 Human Rights Report by the National Human Rights Commission at State House
President Koroma had this to say, “A culture of rights is taking hold, there are no political prisoners, no journalist has been incarcerated,
no person has been executed under my government, and we are promoting the social rights of vulnerable women and children through
the Free Health Care Initiative,”-President Ernest Bai Koroma (Source: http://www.salonereporter.com/?p=5370). So far, a lot of
achievements have been scored by the government in the area of human right.
Now, let us look at the Office of the Ombudsman and free speech and expression as case studies in looking at how human right issues
have been protected under President Koroma. The office itself came into being in Sierra Leone by the Ombudsman Act, 1997, of the
Parliament of Sierra Leone. It draws its powers from Section 146 of the Constitution, and it is empowered to do “investigation” of “any
action taken or omitted to be taken by or on behalf of any department or ministry of government; any statutory corporation or
institutions of higher learning, set up entirely or partly out of public funds”. In short, all those in government who abuse power, and
have their complaints filed in the Ombudsman’s office, will have to answer to this Office. New office spaces have been provided in
Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema, giving the office greater publicity. The new Ombudsman office is today housed in a prestigiously
old United Nations headquarters in the heart of Freetown – on Siaka Stevens Street, opposite Electricity House, one of the busiest
thoroughfares in Freetown. For almost seven years, prior to 2008, the Ombudsman in Sierra Leone was a renowned Freetown lawyer,
but during his tenure, little or nothing was know about the relevance of the office.
When President Ernest Bai Koroma appointed a former Judge who was also former Speaker of the House of Parliament, Justice Edmund
Cowan as Ombudsman, there was a herculean task of image laundering, and moving forward to educate the people about the essence of
the office. During an interview with Newstime Africa in August 27, 2009, he spoke of the political support that the Koroma
administration has been providing the office; “…the office has the support of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, because this
President is committed to making a significant positive difference in good governance during his term in office. It was the President’s
goodwill that stimulated those variables which have enabled us to get this office, and to make the progress we have made so far. So
yes, the political will is there. We have also been getting the support of the Justice Sector Development Project and other internationally-
sponsored peace building organizations…” In fact within one year in office, Cowan received over a hundred complaints. Today, even as
stated by the learned former High Court Judge, during the said interview three years ago, “people have …realizing that there is an
Ombudsman office where they could come and make complaints.
Justice Cowan has always been optimistic about the successes of the office, when he spoke, then that “we are sure we are not going to
get back to those (old) days. What we have done is to establish an office and secondly we have got the staff in place required to do the
work. We have been going out to promote the image of the office and to give confidence to people that there is hope and that we can do
the work. We have started communicating with the public, this was lacking and I think people have started responding in the sense that
they now come to the office to complain. But really, it is a gradual process. The perception of people about this office is that it is a
corrupt office and changing that perception is a gradual process. We are also trying to get support from institutions that we are to deal
with, especially those institutions normally complained by the public. (http://www.newstimeafrica.com/archives/1883)
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Earnest Bai Koroma
President since 17 September 2007
Vice President since 17 September 2007
Earnest Bai Koroma
President since 17 September 2007