Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 February 2018
Ahead of Sierra Leone’s multi-tier elections taking place on 7th of March 2018, the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI), Amnesty International and forty local civil society organisations in the country, are calling on the ruling APC, the opposition SLPP and the Republic National Independent Party (ReNIP) to sign the Civic Space and Human Rights Manifesto.
Other political parties have already signed the manifesto, which is aimed at promoting the protection and promotion of human rights in Sierra Leone.
The three remaining parties who have not signed and are not showing any level of commitment to signing the Civic Space and Human Rights Manifesto document are APC, SLPP and the Republic National Independent Party (ReNIP).
The Sierra Leone People’s Party and the ruling All People’s Congress are the largest and most long-standing parties in the country. It is therefore disappointing that they are not showing leadership in protecting and promoting human rights.
Amnesty International and over 40 Sierra Leonean civil society organizations are calling on all political parties and their elections candidates to commit to the protection and promotion of human rights in Sierra Leone, as a key objective if elected to office.
As the political parties prepare their respective manifesto, CHRDI recommends that the inclusion of specific measures in their manifestos, aimed at addressing the most pressing disadvantages affecting those groups protected by the country’s 1991 constitution, along with all other national and international laws.
CHRDI is specifically urging the All People’s Congress party and the Sierra Leone People’s Party to demonstrate greater sense of responsibility in this regard.
CHRDI is also calling for political debate to follow standards that will not create divisions in the country.
CHRDI’s Chief Executive, Abdul M Fatoma recommends that: “The 2018 elections give us the chance to assert unequivocally that human rights and equality must be at the heart of the political parties’ manifestos. It is time for the Sierra Leone government to make a positive case for the protection of economic and social rights and to reinforce the country’s regional and international profile as an open, just and fair society, committed to the protection of all human rights for all.”
He further said that those who are exposing human rights abuses and corruption, must be protected – not punished. They should be recognised for the vital service they provide for society, often putting their jobs and even their lives on the line in the public interest.
The next government will have a golden opportunity to create a fairer and more united Sierra Leone, Fatoma said.
“We should be reminded that the government of Sierra Leone remains a committed party of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, also known as the Banjul Charter.”
“Consequently, we are urging the political parties to take the steps necessary to ensure that their candidates and senior party stakeholders sign the one-page Civic Space Manifesto containing four key human rights pledges, in order to create a civic space for all Sierra Leoneans and abide by these principles in the forthcoming general elections campaign.
“We are also strongly advocating that they make this public pledge on the basis of these principles during the new Parliament, following the elections”.
Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI ) is a Rights based social-policy advocacy Organisation. We Draw attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights. CHRDI is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.