President Bio commits to human rights as complaints of violation  double

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 December 2020:

President Dr Julius Maada Bio last Thursday, spoke about the stalled constitutional review process, efforts at reforming the criminal justice system and human rights – including the ending of the death penalty in a meeting held at State House with the country’s Human Rights Commission (HRCSL).

Responding to the Commission’s 2018 and 2019 annual reports, the President praised the efforts of HRCSL in monitoring the state of human rights in the country, noting that responding to human rights questions is a very delicate balancing act.

“As part of my Government’s holistic criminal justice reform agenda which includes decluttering and upgrading detention facilities, we hold the view that mandatory custodial sentences especially for petty offences will only backload the criminal justice system again. Government is opened to discussing imposing fines or structured community service regimes rather than mandatory custodial sentences for petty offences.

“That brings me to the question of the death penalty. My Government believes in the sanctity of life of every citizen. We have maintained the moratorium on the death penalty for that reason. Although the recommendation by the Justice Cowan-led Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) was rejected by the last Government, a committee set up by my administration to revisit the issue has recommended accepting the Justice Cowan recommendation. So, my Government has moved the needle significantly on this question and we will continue making progress,” he said.

President Bio said his government has made a public commitment to look at the constitutional review process and has, therefore, approved the setting up of a Technical Committee to review the recommendations of the Justice Cowan-led CRC and advise cabinet on its recommendations.

“To conclude, Government looks forward to enriching the feedback loops and continuing the progressive engagements on human rights in Sierra Leone. We believe that a whole lot of good can come out of working together on doing our very best for Sierra Leone,” he said.

Chairperson of HRCSL, Patricia Narsu Ndanema, said she is happy presenting the 12th and 13th edition of the Commission’s reports, noting that the reports highlight ways to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the Constitution of Sierra Leone and in the international and regional agreements.

“We have assessed the human rights situation in Sierra Leone, looking at the human rights framework, laws put in place to promote and protect human rights, structures put in place where people can access their rights, structures serving as redress mechanisms for people to access when they feel that their rights have been violated,” she said.

“Your Excellency, through our complaints handling functions, the HRCSL recorded an increase in complaints from 178 in 2018 to 326 in 2019, including mobile complaints. This to a large extent is mainly due to our robust human rights awareness drive and confidence we have built for rights holders to access our service in all regional offices,” the HRCSL chair noted.

 

5 Comments

  1. Fantastic stuff. Ending the DEATH PENALTY in Sierra Leone is a very good thing. I congratulate President Bio and the SLPP government for this noble proposal. This is a typical SLPP government decision. Thumbs up for the SLPP party in that regard. The death penalty has been used as a tool in Sierra Leone to eliminating political opponents. What a messy, inhuman and brutal tool to kill one’s fellow citizen. Why continue killing one another for control over the country’s resources? SAD. If President Bio succeeds in abolishing the death penalty in Sierra Leone, then he will go down in history as one of the most revered leaders in Africa.

    To be honest, I was expecting President Bio to bring the country together and abolish the death penalty when he became President. I was also expecting him to work honestly with the APC to rubber stamp the peace that the country was enjoying under President Ernest Bai Koroma, who of course is the greatest former African Leader ever lived. If President Bio would have worked with the APC in good faith when he became Head of State, I believe Sierra Leone would have been a place worth living in by now. As we all know, this President does things haphazardly and most of the time break his promises. Anyway, let’s wait and see if he succeeds in abolishing the death penalty. God bless, guide and protect President Bio and help him succeed in abolishing the death penalty in Sierra Leone. Amen and Amen. Father God.

  2. Totally agree with you. No one should direct any volgar or profane language, at the wife of the head of state, or any fellow Sierra-Leoneans be it APC leadership, or SLPP or any citizens for that matter. After all Mrs Fatima Bio is not the elected leader of our country. Some will say she asked for it. But there is an invisible line that we know should not be cross. I think, Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas got it right in the Sierra Leone Telegraph. No insults just argue your points. And this is why I continued to argue if only we apply such doctrine in Sierra Leone politices, there will less tribal and regional divisions in our country. Maybe we will able to listen to each other and not shout at each other. “THE ABUDUL RICHAD THOMAS DOCTRINE”.

    Respect your fellow Sierra Leoneans point of view regardless of what you think of them. You may not agree with them, but at least you hear them. Mrs Bio, might have thrown herself into the ring of the mudslinging politics of our country, but I rather she stays out of politics, and carry on with charity work, by helping our young women and girls. I think the issues of promoting women’s rights in Sierra Leone is enough on her plate to deal with, until Bio is voted out of office. Freedom of speech does n0t mean you should go for the lowest common denominator, especially if you are privileged to claim to have any sort of education or gutter politics which we Sierra Leoneans have gotten use to. Now on the questions of Bio upholding or working towards that goal, like stepple chase track event, he has many hoops to jump over.

    At the moment he has made many false starts. Bio needs to lead from the front. At the moment a lot of the initiatives that need his attention, are placed in the back bonner. Bio needs to act like a leader that has a clear vision of where he wants our country to be in the 21st century. But I am not holding my breath on that one. Right now all his speeches and efforts are lost in translation. I don’t think Bio is aware of what is going on. Human rights. What is human rights? He has turned it on its head.

  3. In many African countries, people only see Human Rights as right of the governed and not the governers.

    In the USA a republican politicians once insulted Michael Obama as a chimp in high heels, simply because she disagreed with her husband then president Obama. Although freedom of expression is the strength of the American society, right meaning and decent citizens including newspapers disagreed with that politician. She resigned from her public position.

    In Sierra Leone a female politician of the main opposition party who was once the SEA to the former president (a position which is a position equivalent to the position of chief minister) and also held the position of Minister of Gender and children Affairs, took her freedom of speech to a level above that of the American female politician mentioned above. She labelled the first lady Mrs Bio as dancing like a prostitute simply because she disagrees with President Bio. That is an insult conduct, and while the 1965 libel law has been expunged from our laws, insulting conduct against another citizens has not. The disappointing issue here is that while right meaning Americans and press disapproved of the insult against Mrs Obama, in Sierra Leone the insulter of Mrs Bio is hailed as fearless and a champion by citizens and press outlets. Is Mrs Bio not entitled to the same Human Rights that we the governed crave for every day?

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