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Sierra Leone: President Bio commits to continental rights body

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada has expressed commitment to ratifying the Protocol of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR).Bio was quoted Friday assuring a visiting delegation from the Arusha-based court that his government was studying the instrument and will respond positively in due course.

The AfCHPR was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to complement the protective mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, with a view to enhancing the protection of human rights on the continent. But for the instrument to be successful, the Protocol requires a wider ratification by AU member states, as well as their acceptance of the competence of the Court, by making the declaration under Article 34(6).

And so far only 30 out of 55 member states have ratified the Protocol, among which only eight have deposited the declaration. Sierra Leone and Liberia are two of the countries that are yet to ratify the protocol. And the court said in a statement issued prior to arriving in Freetown that the tour is part of a push for more countries to embrace it.

“The sensitisation missions are part of the on-going efforts of the Court to interact with different stakeholders in order to deepen their understanding of the Court’s mission and to encourage States to ratify the Protocol establishing the AfCHPR and to deposit the declaration under Article 34(6), which allows direct access to the Court by NGOs and individuals,” the statement read.

It added that Sierra Leone and Liberia had made tremendous democratic gains in recent years and urged the two war-torn countries to ratify the Protocol and to deposit the declarations.

The delegation, headed by Justice Sylvain Oré, between August 2 and 3 held a seminar for human rights stakeholders from the state and civil society organisations. It also held talks with key government officials, including the head of State. Similar sessions are scheduled for Liberia between August 6 and 7.

At the meeting with President Julius Maada at State House, the Sierra Leonean leader told the visitors that the African continent, given its chaotic experience, had to make sure that its peoples’ rights were protected and that concrete steps must be taken to ensure this lasts.
“We have gone through a lot in terms of conflict and they are never far off from blatant abuse of human rights. So you can rest assured that we will give this particular issue a positive consideration,” he said.

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