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HRCSL unveils 2017 State of Children’s Report

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

As part of its week long activities in celebrating this year’s International Day of the Girl Child, the Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has unveiled the State of Children’s report 2017 with the theme “My voice-our equal future.”

The event at the Sierra Leone Library Board conference hall in Freetown on Friday October 16, 2020 brought together pupils from various primary and secondary schools.

The research which graduated into a report was carried by the commission with funds provided by Save the Children and the European Union.

The report focused on sexual and gender-based violence against children across the country which is on the increase.

According to the Director of Monitoring and Research, Josephine Thompson Shaw, the commission engaged in effective monitoring as well as community engagements, using both quantitative and qualitative approach in gathering data.

She stated that the report further looked at institutions that are responsible for the protection of children’s rights and to ensure that the children rights are protected.

“The report contained five chapters, and some of these chapters further looked at child support, maintenance support as well as complaints which are brought before the commission, laws or instruments that are geared towards addressing children’s issues, among others,” she said.

The report recommended that government should review the Child Rights Act of 2007 to give total independence to the National Commission for Children (NCC) to enable it to function efficiently and effectively, and also provide adequate resources to the Family Support Unit to make them viable to attend to victims promptly and speed up investigation and prosecution of cases

The government was also urged to ensure that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation adheres to the provisions in the Sexual Offences Act 2012 and refrain from charging fees for issuance of medical certificates, while the ministry of Health should work with other Non- Governmental Organizations like the Rainbow Centre to establish a separate unit for treating victims of SGBV (including in locations where the Rainbow Centre do not operate).

In her statement, Commissioner Simitie Lavaly, said the report looked at the laws as well as the institutions that protect children.

“For example, the Marriage and Divorce Act and the Child Right Act of Sierra Leone are in conflict with each other. It was still timely for the commission to launch such a report because the issues raised are still prevalent. We hope that government will use the report to address issues facing children in the country ,” she said.

She added that key among the issues that are prevalent is the spate of sexual and gender-based violence.

Madam Lavaly said the report also seeks to look at the gaps and challenges in protecting children’s right so that there can be improvement where there are gaps in responding to children’s issues.

She noted that the commission had been very supportive to ensuring that matters of sexual and gender-based violence are prosecuted and charged to court.

Launching the report, Deputy Commissioner of the National Commission for Children, Fabundeh Ansumana, thanked the commission for what he described as “exceptional work done”. He assured that the NCC will utilize the report and take the recommendations in the report very seriously.

He stressed the need to educate the children about the laws that are geared towards protecting their rights because according to him, if the children are not aware of their rights, they will not demand for it. He further called on the children to behave responsibly. “In as much as you have rights, but you should also note that these rights go with responsibility,” he said.

The Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone Act of 2004 established a commission for the protection and promotion of human rights in Sierra Leone and to provide for other related matters.

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