The UPR Working Group examined the human rights record of Sierra Leone on 5 May 2011. The five-person delegation was headed by Mr Franklyn Bai Kargbo, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. During his introductory statement, the Minister discussed his country's positive human rights achievements, including in the area of gender equality, with 30 percent representation of women in parliament.
The majority of comments and questions from States focused on issues such as the widespread practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), the process of reintegration of former child soldiers, female political representation, and the necessity to increase access to basic health services. Certain states also raised concerns over the delayed submission of reports to various treaty bodies. To this end, States made the following specific recommendations and comments:
- Recommendations to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention on Civil and Political
Rights concerning the abolition of the death penalty, and the need to enact legislation to abolish the death penalty.
Praise for efforts to address the reintegration of child soldiers, especially girls, through implementation of recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Criticism of the failure to grant citizenship to persons lacking ancestors of African descent for three prior generations.
Calls for the elimination of FGM through government policies and consultations with communities and religious leaders.
Need to implement a national strategy to address sexual violence against women, especially concerning impunity over rape.
Calls for the establishment of a national human rights institution (NHRI) to assist with the submission of outstanding reports to treaty bodies.
Suggestions to undertake concrete measures to combat discrimination against women as per UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women and girls in armed conflict.
Appeals to Sierre Leone to repeal legislation that criminalises same-sex relations and discriminates against sexual minorities.
Continued concerns over women's access to justice and basic legal services, along with a lack of awareness of women's rights.
Recommendations to amend labour laws so as to combat child labour, exploitation of workers, and human trafficking.
Congratulations for Sierre Leone's steps in improving health services for pregnant women, coupled with calls for further expanding access to free healthcare.
Only the US expressed concern over possible tensions between ruling and opposition parties that could have an adverse effect on voter turnout and peaceful acceptance of polling results in the upcoming election.
Comments on the lowered public confidence in the police due to allegations of excessive use of force and corruption.
The delegation concluded by telling the Council of its plans to seek technical assistance for the implementation of UPR recommendations. States made 129 recommendations to Sierra Leone. At the adoption of the report by the Working Group, the delegation accepted 44, stated that 57 were already implemented or in the course of being implemented, and refrained from taking a position on 28 recommendations pending further examination. The decision on those outstanding recommendations will be taken by the 18th session of the Human Rights Council, in September 2011.
For more information, including statements delivered and the report of the Working Group, see the OHCHR extranet (username: hrc extranet, password: 1session).