SIERRA LEONE: Human Rights Commission Trains Staff on TRC Implementation Status

Thursday, July 8, 2010
Awareness Times
Western Africa
Sierra Leone
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRC-SL) on Wednesday 7th July 2010 trained members of staff on how to partner with stakeholders in the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) Recommendations on the findings on women. The training session which was sponsored by the Italian Corporation through UNIFEM's support took place at the Presidential Lounge of the National Stadium in Freetown.

Speaking on the importance of the training session, Human and Children's Rights Officer of the commission, Madam Gloria Bayoh noted that its essence is to build the capacity of staffs in the implementation of the recommendations made by the TRC based on findings on women by the Commission, taking cognizance of the fact that women and girls were the deliberate targets of rape and sexual violence by all armed groups during the eleven-year conflict.

She said the commission notes with concern that most of the recommendations made by the TRC after their findings on women and girls remain pending. Even though a few have been implemented many others are yet in the embryonic stage of implementation, with twenty-three recommendations with no progress as to when they shall be implemented by the responsible agents.

The commissioner accused successive governments for failing to protect women and girls during and after the conflict as discriminatory laws and customs in the areas of marriage, divorce, inheritance, land rights and administration of estates continue to be the major obstacles to the transformation of vulnerable groups such as war widows, aged women, girl mothers and victims of displacement and female ex-combatants.

Though the commissioner agreed that few of the recommendations have either been implemented or in the pipe line of implementation, like the repeal of all statutory and customary laws discriminating against women, the signing of the protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women among others, pertinent ones such as the protection of women and girls in the prosecution of sexual offences and the requirement of all political parties to ensure at least 30% of candidates for public offices are women including many more remain to be addressed.

According to Madam Gloria Bayoh they were embarking on such training to empower their staffs to help sensitize the public through ‘engagements with responsible agents to determine the status of implementation of the many recommendations. She therefore, encouraged the staff to take the training seriously as it will help develop their skills in executing their duties in their respective interview locations.

Commissioner Jamesina King expressed some appreciation to government for fulfilling some of the recommendations made by the TRC, but reiterated that there were still more to be done. In addition she said there is a need for a constitutional review, as according to her the constitution is the thing that holds the country together and reviewing it will help greatly. ‘We should also reform our gender laws to be gender friendly.”

In his presentation Mr. M. T Koroma also underscored the importance of a constitutional review in order to remove some of the old laws that discriminate against women.