The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) on Thursday April 25th, 2019 observed the Africa Pre-Trial Detention Day by undertaking monitoring of Police and detention facilities.
HRCSL joined in the commemoration in order to ensure that regional standards as set out in the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pretrial Detention in Africa (also known as The Luanda Guidelines) are complied with.
The Luanda Guidelines was adopted in 2015, during the 56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. At the 10th biennial conference held in Yaoundé, Cameroun, in October 2015, delegates agreed that Africa Pre-Trial Detention Day should be observed annually on 25th April.
The Deputy Director of Monitoring and Research at HRCSL, Mr. Brima Kelson Sesay, said the monitoring exercise will help the Commission to understand the challenges faced by inmates and the institutions in the implementation of the provisions in the Guidelines. He also said it will serve as a basis for making recommendations and engaging relevant authorities which may result in policy change to enhance the welfare of inmates, thereby forestalling or minimizing violations of human rights in detention facilities.
The Deputy Director also explained that the HRCSL is a member of the Network of African Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) which is spearheading the promotion and awareness raising of the Luanda Guidelines.
The Commission will send a report of monitoring activities to NANHRI, highlighting the types of petty offences and the number of detainees charged with petty offences, number of detainees held in custody for petty offences, the conditions of detention centers and the laws criminalizing petty offences.
The monitoring was conducted in Koinadugu and Falaba in the Northern Region, Kailahun in the Eastern region, Pujehun in the South, Peninsular and its environs in the Western Rural District and east, west and central Freetown.
The Human Rights Commission was established by an Act of Parliament Act (No. 9) 2004 with the mandate to protect and promote human rights in Sierra Leone. Section 7(2) (f) of the HRCSL Act requires the Commission to monitor and document human rights violations in Sierra Leone. In addition, Section 9 gives the Commission authority to access facilities and places of detention including prisons, police cells and probation facilities in order to investigate human rights matters.