Rights group calls on local councils in Sierra Leone to respect human rights

The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI)

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 April 2017

Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and accountability still continue to be challenges for human rights in Sierra Leone. There seems to be no end in violations and abuses. And today there is little prospect for improving human rights situation in Sierra Leone.

The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has continued to push for independent investigations into all serious allegations of human rights violations and abuses by all state actors and non state actors and will continue to do so.

We have evidence that Sierra Leoneans who criticize the government continue to face the threat of criminal prosecution. They do not benefit from due process guarantees, such as the right to fair and public hearings by a competent and impartial tribunal.

In practice, courts are subordinated to the executive and legislative branches, denying them meaningful judicial independence.

As we speak, local government authorities are restricting the movement of citizens in some parts of the country in the name of encouraging them to register for citizenship, a process that has been politicised and made to look like an all-out attempt by political parties to register voters by all means.

Local authorities should be made aware of their human rights responsibilities, understanding that any failure to comply with these responsibilities will entail their liability under national law as well as international responsibility of the State as a whole.

While decentralization in general works towards the empowerment of citizens in decision-making and control over policies, certain measures and procedures must be securely in place to create the necessary environment to make democratic participation possible and effective.

Illegal acts of any public authority, including local government officials in Sierra Leone, are attributable to the State even if they are ultra vires or contravene domestic laws and instructions. This flows directly from the principle contained in article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, according to which a State Party “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.

It should be borne in mind that democracy is not possible without respect for human rights; and no human right can be achieved without democracy. Local self-governance does not automatically lead to participatory democracy.

We believe that the role of Local government is to bring government to the grass roots and enable citizens participate effectively in making the decisions affecting their daily lives.

As the level closest to the citizens, local government is, in principle, in a much better position than central government to deal with matters that require local knowledge and regulation on the basis of local needs and priorities.

CHRDI believes that all provisions being introduced by Local Government authorities impose clear obligation on local authorities to apply a human rights-based approach to delivering public services within their defined competences.

CHRDI will continue to remind local government officials about their obligations to protecting the human rights of all Sierra Leoneans under their jurisdiction.

About Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI )

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.

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