Head Quarter Office

  • Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone Building, OAU Drive, Tower Hill, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa
  • +232 79 481520
  • info@hrc-sl.org

History of Human Rights Commission Sierra Leone

The establishment of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) was provided for in the Lome Peace Agreement of 1999, and was also recommended in the 2004 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report. The Commission was finally established by an Act of Parliament (Act. No. 9) to protect and promote human rights in Sierra Leone. It was in December 2006 when the Commissioners were sworn into office. The Commission is a National Human Rights Institution that fulfils the standards set by the UN Paris Principles governing such institutions.

The HRCSL became truly operational in 2007, although Commissioners took office in December, 2006. The five Commissioners were appointed through a transparent and participatory process that commenced in 2005 with a call for applications for the post of Commissioner. Short listed applicants were interviewed by a selection panel comprising six representatives of civil society interest groups and one representative of the government.

The Selection Panel submitted a list of seven candidates to the President who selected five nominees whose names were gazetted for public scrutiny and review. In October 2006 the five nominees were approved by Parliament, and thereafter took the Oath of Office before the President on 11th December 2006.

Since the appointment of Commissioners, significant progress has been made in operationalising the Commission. The Commissioners were walked through a two week comprehensive training facilitated by Commissioner Aliro Omara of the Uganda Human Rights Commission. This was followed by a three-week international study tour of the Ghanaian, Ugandan, and South African Human Rights Commissions. This was with the view to further build the capacity of the Commissioners to embark on their statutory responsibilities.

Since then, the Commission has undertaken a number of activities intended to promote human rights: These include setting up the structure for the work of the Commission, formulation and adoption of the Human Resource Manual (HRM) and the Financial Policies, promulgating of the Complaints Investigation and Inquiries Rules of Procedure.

HRCSL embarked on a strategic planning process, and held consultations with various stakeholders. Through the participatory approach, HRCSL gathered information on the external and internal environments affecting human rights in the country, drafted its Mission and Vision Statements, and determined its strategic priorities and goals and developed a Strategic Plan with the full contribution of all relevant stakeholders and partners.

In furtherance of the promotion of human rights, the Commission has acted as the de facto Follow up Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In this regard, it has organized conferences on implementation of the TRC recommendations, produced a Matrix on the Status of Implementation of the TRC Recommendations as well as monitored the reparations programme; Reviewed draft legislations and supported Government in fulfilling its reporting obligations under various human rights treaties; led consultations for the compilation of Sierra Leone’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Report to be presented by the Government of Sierra Leone to the UN Human Rights Council, promoted and protected the rights of vulnerable groups through training, awareness raising and effective engagement with key stakeholders nationwide and developing and launching the Business and Human Rights Manual.

In May 2011, HRCSL was reviewed by the ICC Sub-Committee on Accreditation and was accredited ‘A’ Status. The Commission was also Re-Accredited ‘A’ Status when it was reviewed in 2016.

The Commission has set itself clear goals aimed at effectively addressing future challenges and has adopted Annual/Strategic Plans that guide the operation of the Commission. The current strategic plan (2016 – 2020) set out ten priority goals as follows:

  • Institutional Capacity Development of HRCSL: To enhance the operational and technical capacity of the HRCSL to effectively and efficiently protect and promote human rights in Sierra Leone;
  • Protection against Discrimination: To sensitize on all discriminatory practices and advocate for an effective legislative and policy frameworks to address discrimination in Sierra Leone.
  • Effective Complaints handling in the HRCSL: To speedily and efficiently address human rights violations and seek remedies for victims within the mandates of the HRCSL, the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Regional and International Human Rights Instruments;
  • Human Rights Monitoring and Research: To monitor, research, document and report on the level of respect for or violation of human rights in Sierra Leone.
  • Human Rights Education and Training: To enhance understanding of human rights and promote a human rights culture in Sierra Leone;
  • Respect for and observance of Civil and Political Rights: To monitor and engage public officials to respect, protect, promote and fulfill civil and political rights as well as educate the general public on their individual responsibilities for the enjoyment of these rights in Sierra Leone;
  • Respect for & observance of Economic, Social & Cultural (ESC) Rights: To monitor and advocate for the provision of basic social services for the fulfillment and enjoyment of ESC Rights in Sierra Leone;
  • Enhance compliance with Local, Regional & International Human Rights obligations of Sierra Leone: To promote state compliance with Regional & International Human Rights Instruments to which Sierra Leone is a signatory.
  • Obligations of public officials to protect human rights & access to justice: To monitor, document and engage public officials on their obligations to protect human rights in Sierra Leone
  • Business and Human Rights: To engage public officials on their obligations to ensure that Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) and other business entities to respect and observe international human rights instruments and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights ;

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