Sierra Leone

Draft is simple and comprehensive, containing most of human rights defenders’ rights and state obligations enshrined in the Model Law. Protection Mechanism is broadly established with clear purposes.

The Human Rights Defenders Bill 2017

Type of instrument: Law and Protection Mechanism
Status: (as of 1 January 2022)
In Progress; In discussion between civil society and Ministry of Justice (not yet presented to Parliament).

Comments on the instrument:
The draft law is simple and comprehensive, containing most of the rights for human rights defenders and state obligations enshrined in the Model Law. It is one of the only analysed laws that explicitly considers the right to privacy. However, other important rights are missing, including the right to freedom from stigmatisation and defamation. The Protection Mechanism is broadly established with clear purposes. Some provisions in the Model Law are missing (such as on personal data protection). These could be incorporated into strengthened drafts to be submitted. The current draft has grammatical errors which cause confusion. 

Does the instrument contain specific provisions easily used to restrict human rights defenders’ rights?
Potentially. Part III, Section 7 ‘Limitations on the rights of human rights defenders’ indicates in number XIII that human rights defenders are to present annual reports to the NHRI, which is an existing requirement of the law governing NGOs, and is complex for human rights defenders not associated with an NGO.

 


Comparison to the Model Law

Below is a short summary of the instrument compared to the Model Law. For additional information and analysis by ISHR on Sierra Leone, click here.

A selection of fundamental rights for human rights defenders incorporated in the instrument (as compared to the Model Law):

Provision

Covered?

Analysis / articles

Definition of Human Rights Defender

FULL

Part I 

Right to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms

FULL

Part II, Section 1, I.

Part V, Section 22, XLV(a)

Right to Form Groups, Associations, and Organisations

FULL

Part II, Section 1, IIi.

Right to Solicit, Receive and Utilise Resources

FULL

Part II, Section 5, IX

Right to freedom of expression and to seek, receive and disseminate Information

FULL

Part II, Section 2, IV.

Part II, Section 3

Right to access and cooperate with NGOs, government organisations and international organisations

FULL

Part II, Section 1

Part II, Section 2, VI

Right to participate in public affairs

PART

Part II, Sections 1, 2 & 3, i, II, IV a), VII

Right to Peaceful Assembly

FULL

Part II, Section 1, II.

Right to represent and advocate

PART

Part II, Sections 1 & 2, I, II, VI.

Right to freedom of movement

NONE

 

Right to Privacy

FULL

Part II, Section 4, VIII

Part IV, Section 10

Freedom from intimidation or reprisal

FULL

Part II, Section 3, VII.

Part IV, Section 11, XIX

Freedom from defamation and stigmatisation

PART

Part I, Section I, ‘intimidation or reprisal’;

Part IV, Section 9, XV d)

State obligations regarding human rights defenders in the instrument?

Obligation to respect, promote, protect and fulfil rights of human rights defenders

FULL

Part II, Section 6, X

Part IV, Section 8, XIV

Part IV, Section 15

Obligation to facilitate the activities and work of human rights defenders 

FULL

Part IV, Section 8, XIV, c)

Part IV, Section 9

Part IV, Section 15

Obligation to prevent and to ensure protection against arbitrary or unlawful intrusion, interference, and intimidation or reprisal

FULL

Part IV, Section 11

Part IV, Section 12, XX

Obligation to investigate, provide an effective remedy and ensure reparation

FULL

Part IV, Section 11, XIX

Part IV, Sections 13 & 14, XXI-XXV

Mechanism on the protection of human rights defenders established in the instrument?
Yes, through Part V, Section 16.

Provision

Covered?

Articles

Cooperation with human rights defenders, civil society, and national and international human rights bodies

FULL

Part V, Sections 17, 18 & 19, XXXIV(b)&(j), XXXV, XXXVI 

Training of mechanism’s personnel on human rights and fundamental freedoms

PART

Part V, Section 16, XXIX

Periodic reviews with independent experts and CSOs on the functioning of the Mechanism

FULL

Part V, Section 17, XXXV 

Resources for adequate functioning of the Mechanism / transparency on resource usage 

FULL

Part V, Section 20 

Public acknowledgement of human rights defenders’ work and rights (promotion of UN Declaration)

FULL

Part V, Section 17, XXXIII(e), XXXIV(i) 

Disseminate information on protection programmes for human rights defenders, Mechanism’s work

FULL

Part V, Section 17, XXXIV (h) 

Development of protocols and guidelines based on best practices to protect human rights defenders

FULL

Part V, Section 17, XXXIV (c) 

Assist investigations for prosecuting offences against human rights defenders

FULL

Part V, Section 17, XXXIII(c)&(d), XXXIV(e)

Granting of protective measures based off a specific risk assessment

FULL

Part V, Section 17, XXXIII(a)&(b), XXXIV(a), (d), (f)

Review / appeal of Mechanism decision before courts or independent authority

NONE

 

Confidentiality and personal data protection

NONE

 

Actions to achieve structural changes (annual reports on the situation of human rights defenders, advising government on laws and policies related to human rights defenders) 

PART

Part V, Section 17, XXXIV (g) 

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Human Rights Defenders Bill 2017