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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone must do more to implement recommendations on defenders and civic space

Despite Sierra Leone's acceptance of recommendations aiming to improve civil society’s space, cases of reprisals against human rights defenders are still reported.

During its last review, Sierra Leone accepted 216 of the 274 recommendations it received. Among them, the revision of the 2019 law on sexual offences and the abolition of death penalty and the law on seditious defamation to allow more civic space were particularly commended by the parties.  

While welcoming Sierra Leone’s acceptance of recommendations on human rights defenders’ protection, ISHR and the Human Rights Defenders Network expressed their concern on the ongoing criminalization of agribusiness group opponents. They notably mentioned two land rights defenders, Mohamed Ansumana and Mustapha, who got shot dead by security forces during protestations against SOCFIN Group palm oil plantations.

The statement calls on the country to:

  • Make sure land workers and defenders are protected from State security force abuses,
  • Refrain from adopting policies that will interfere with their financial autonomy and independence of action and,
  • Implement a national law on the protection of human rights defenders in line with the UN Declaration on the Human Rights Defenders and the Model National Law on the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

A majority of States and civil society organisations also underscored that all the recommendations relating to feminine genital mutilation were only noted and not accepted. They underlined the contradiction this has with the acceptance and implementation of recommendations related to the improvement of the situation of girls and women and with recommendations on child protection and rights. 

Finally, NGOs have been vocal on the slow progress of the general implementation of recommendations since the last Universal Periodic Review of Sierra Leone. The country demanded the assistance of the Council to carry out the implementation in the best way possible. 

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Defenders protection mechanisms must include defenders

On 30 April, ISHR delivered a statement following the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on defenders in Africa. The statement focused on the need to include civil society in the newly established protection mechanisms and the need for the Special Rapporteur to publish their first report on reprisals against those who engage with African human rights mechanisms.

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