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As first Sierra Leonean sworn in…HRCSL presents report to African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

09,Nov 2015
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As the first Sierra Leonean woman is being sworn in as Commissioner in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) on Thursday 5th November 2015 presented its report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) at its 57th Session in Banjul, The Gambia.

 

This is Sierra Leone’s fulfillment of its reporting requirement under the African Charter for the first time since it was adopted by the OAU on 27 June 1981 and it is its Sierra Leone’s initial and combined reports from 1983-2013.

HRCSL statement on the human rights situation highlighted areas on the EVD disease, Administration of Justice i.e Poilice Cells, Courts, Correctional Centres, Women and Children. The country report will be considered on the 8th which will be presented by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Frank Kargbo.

 The African Charter established the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the 3rd July 1986 to promote protect and interpret the rights enshrined in the Charter. The African Charter, like the continent itself, is unique in so many respects. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) was adopted by the OAU on 27 June 1981 and entered into force on 21 October 1986, a day which is celebrated annually as the Africa Human Rights Day.

The reporting mechanism established under the Charter provides an opportunity for constructive dialogue and review. African Union Member States can now review their human rights achievements and challenges over time. The setting up of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights and its subsequent entry into force on 25th January 2004 complements the protective mandate of the Commission which has the added effect of holding human rights violators in Africa accountable. The decisions of this court are final and binding on State Parties to the Protocol, including Sierra Leone.

The Charter recognizes that all rights are the same and indivisible. It recognizes civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. It also recognizes peoples’ and groups rights to development, free disposal of natural resources and self-determination and it imposes duties on both States and individuals. The enjoyment of rights and freedoms also implies the performance of duties and responsibilities on the part of everyone.

Since the adoption of the Charter some 34 years ago, it has formed the framework for individuals to claim their rights in an international court. For instance, Article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act authorizes the Union to intervene within each Member State in cases of war crimes, genocide, mass atrocities and crimes against humanity.

One of the Commissioners of HRCSL, Mrs. Jamesina Essie Leonora King who was recently nominated, elected and appointed Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, was inaugurated on Wednesday November 4 in Banjul.

Jamesina King was the first Chairperson of HRCSL from 2007-2009 and served in that capacity for two years. She is serving her second and final term as Commissioner. Prior to her service to HRCSL, she worked as a private Legal Practitioner in a Law Firm from 1994-2006. She is a strong advocate of Women’s empowerment, peace, security and gender equality.  

She holds a post graduate degree from Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington D.C. and a certificate in “Implementing Human Rights Conventions” from University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre, U.K. She is a Leadership Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellow and past President of Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (LAWYERS) – an organization of female lawyers in Sierra Leone dedicated to enhancing women’s access to justice.

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