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On Int’l Human Rights Day: HRCSL urges Gov’t to address youth violence

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has called on the government to address the issue of youth violence, which has an effect on the enjoyment of human rights in the country.

While recognizing the intervention of government on youth activities, Patricia Narsu Ndanema also urged the government to create more opportunities for young people in a bid to get them more occupied in preparation for productive lives.

She was speaking on Thursday December 10, 2020 at the State Hall of the Sierra Leone Parliament during an event organized by the commission and its partners to commemorate this year’s International Human Rights Day with the theme: “Recover better: Stand up for human rights”.

The day was set aside to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly.

“It is also worthy to note that our human rights are protected by law, they are restricted or limited by law and our rights can also be claimed by using the law. Let us endeavor to use the law while we claim our rights,” Mrs. Ndanema urged.

According to her, whiles the state has its obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, citizens also have a duty to uphold human rights principles in order for everyone to live in peace and dignity.

The HRCSL Chairperson called on citizens to desist from making statements or putting up actions that have the potential to erode the peace that the country has been enjoying and subsequently the disappearance of human rights.

“Where there is instability there is no space for the enjoyment of human rights. The Commission therefore called on everyone to stand up for human rights by abiding by constitutional provisions of the duties of a citizens and acting in line with same.”

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Hon. Daniel Koroma, noted that the country is faced with many human rights challenges, adding, “1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone does not satisfactorily respect the principle which states that do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.”

According to him, Sierra Leone still has laws that should be expunged from the law books, citing the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965, which makes provision for preliminary investigations, during which accused persons are kept in custody unnecessarily.

Also speaking, Head of the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Tom Vens said: “We are gathered here today because we have a common agenda. It is heartening to know that, all of us here, are committed to not just protect but also promote human rights; that we all recognize human rights as central to our ambition to build just and equitable societies.”

He reminded those present that human rights are not just lofty principles propagated by defenders in an often hostile world, where selfish or tribal instincts can appear to have the upper hand but rather it represent hope, which everyone must aspire to represent.

Ambassador Vens noted that Human Rights are at the heart of the EU’s foreign policy, which was why the EU recently adopted its third Global Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, as well as the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime

In his keynote address, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh highlighted some of the gains that have been recorded by the current administration in ensuring that human rights are protected, citing the amendment of the Sexual Offences Act and the establishment of a Sexual Offences Model Court.

He spoke about the recent employment of thirty-one state counsels to ensure speedy trials of sexual and gender-based violence and acknowledged the pleas made by the Chairperson of the commission with regards increment of budgetary allocation.

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