Attorney General Speaks on Human Rights Commissioners’ dissolution

Sierra Leone's Attorney General and Minister of Justice

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice has spoken at last in response to claims by former Human Rights Commissioners of Sierra Leone, following the dissolution of the commission among others in strict compliance with the state of the economy.

Statement on queries regarding the Human Rights Commission and Human Rights defenders in Sierra Leone

A. Introduction

A.1. This Statement is a response to the various queries regarding the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) and human rights defenders addressed to my office directly and indirectly through other channels of the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL). More particularly, I wish to acknowledge the letters of 16 October 2018 by Professor Dr Beate Rudolf, Chairperson of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI); and the letter by Mr. Michael Forst, the UN Human Rights Council (UN/HRC) Special Rapporteur dated 19 October 2018.

A.2. It is also to assure the International Community, our Donors and Partners, Non-Governmental Organisations and Civil Society Institutions concerned with defending the Human Rights, especially of the poor and vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone, of our commitment to support their work on Human Rights in the country.

A.3. The Statement explains the context of the Government of Sierra Leone institutional restructuring action affecting the HRCSL and the commissioners among others. It demonstrates how the dissolution of the HRCSL was necessary to safeguard the principles of pluralism and independence of NHRI and to ensure complicity with due process under domestic law. The Statement also proffers reason for the delay in responding formally to the queries and reiterates our Government’s commitment to Human rights.

B. The context of the GOSL action affecting the HRCSL

B.1. In March 2018, Sierra Leoneans elected a different political party into government. His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio inherited a depleted economy that was at near collapse. The Governance Transition Team Report (The GTT Report) which entailed a review of the state of the economy under the previous regime uncovered burdensome external and domestic debt, fiscal indiscipline, mismanagement of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs), rampant corruption including the award of inflated government contracts. The new administration has a sovereign mandate to ensure continuity in government, to stop leakages in government expenditures, to develop the country and to account for its stewardship of the State and the judicious use of its resources.

B.2. Considering the above, the Office of the President issued a Public Notice on 26 June 2018, entitled “Restructuring of Boards, Commissions, Authorities, Agencies”, communicating Government’s ongoing action of restructuring the management and oversight boards of parastatals and other state institutions.

B.3. Except for the National Electoral Commission, the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, the Law Reform Commission, the Sierra Leone Teaching Service Commission, and the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards, all other boards, commissions, auth