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The Assistant UN Secretary-General (ASG) and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Asa Regner, have said the United Nation's Women's Office is committed to supporting Sierra Leone in achieving Agenda 2030.
Sierra Leone has made tremendous strides to achieve gender parity, the Gender Minister, Manty Tarwallie, said to the visiting #UNWomen team during a bilateral meeting at her office yesterday, June 30th, 2022. A Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy (GEWE) is in place, however, more needs to be done to support the passing of the GEWE bill which has been tabled in parliament.
ASG/DED Regner said there is a need to galvanize resources to meet the desired expectations of the Ministry of Gender. “I am here because we want to show that we are dedicated to Sierra Leone, and we want to find ways to work with you." In the last few hours we have seen constructive thinking around Sierra Leone and gender equality, "said Asa Regner
Ms. Asa Regner also said that there is a huge gap between policies and reality. “Most countries in the world have a gap between legislation and reality, and we’ve increasingly learned how to support the closing of that gap.”
ASG/DED Regner said that there are great lessons in Sierra Leone in the engagement of boys and men, as well as whole families, in the prevention, protection, and providing justice for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Sexuality Education is also an important tool for girls to know their rights, she concluded.
Regional Director of West and Central Africa of UN Women, Oulimata Sarr said she is very hopeful that the government of Sierra Leone will support “we know Sierra Leone is going to provide representation and resources to the women talked about in the GEWE Bill and we were very pleased to see how the bill is addressing issues of representation, the issue of economic empowerment, the issue of education of the girls,” she added that this is as a result of the commitment handwork and dedication of the Gender Minister.
At a meeting in Parliament with the Speaker, the #UNWomen team highlighted the GEWE Bill, which they described as all-encompassing for the attainment of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Sierra Leone.
“We are very hopeful that the bill, that is set before us will be passed. "We will be increasing the representation to 44 women as the bill requires that for every 2 males there should be a female representation," the Speaker of Parliament responded.
In a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor David Francis said Sierra Leone is a small country with free quality education. He said that 2% of the GDP is invested in free quality education, and that's translated into 2.5 million children going to school.
AGS/DED said when women's rights are upheld and put into practice, and when they hold political positions and other authority, we can really assess that the difference is more legitimate and long-lasting because it is much more inclusive.
#UNWomen RD I come from a country where clarity has been made since 2012. Since 2012, the parliament has had 50% local government and that's why we believe that Senegal will be seen as a source of inspiration.
Less than 20% of elected seats in Sierra Leone are held by women, who make up 52% of the country's overall population. In comparison to males, their representation, visibility, involvement, and voice in elected and appointed posts are still quite low. Inadequate progressive legislation that protects and promotes participation for women; high levels of illiteracy, deeply ingrained traditions and practices; political violence and retaliation, lack of economic independence; and lack of confidence to run for public office are a few of these obstacles.

The Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director (DED) of UN Women Asa Regner and Regional Director for West and Central Africa (WCARO) of UN Women Oulimata Sarr arrived in Sierra Leone through Gendema on the south-eastern Liberia-Sierra Leone border today, 29 June 2022. The team aims to strengthen and re-affirm UN Women's support toward the advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls with a view to furthering advocacy and partnership in line with the development agenda of Sierra Leone and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Braving the difficulties of traveling by road in Africa, ASG/DED Asa Regner‘s decision to travel by road from Liberia to Sierra Leone is her selfless expression and indication of the length she can go in addressing issues affecting women’s equality and empowerment.

Upon arrival, ASG/DED Asa Regner and team were received by the UN Women Sierra Leone Head of Office, Setcheme  Jeromnime Mongbo, and team and made a stopover in Bo City.

In Bo City, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Asa Regner, & Regional Director of West and Central Africa of UN Women, Oulimata Sarr, visited the Commit and Act Organisation to collaborate on survivor case studies and treatment for victims of #SGBV as part of government structures to prevent imprisonable crimes in support of GEWE. The Program Manager, Edmond Joebodie Brandon, is grateful to receive support from UN Women during the COVID-19 outbreak. Healthcare, livelihood capacity, psycho-social care, and shelters are made available to teenage mothers and victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) despite the organization’s mobility and infrastructural challenges.

“UN Women is committed to strengthening its existing partnerships to improve the quality of, and access to, comprehensive essential services for survivors of violence in Sierra Leone”  ASG/DED Asa Regner said.

ASG/DED Asa Regner will meet with the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Brigadier (Retired) Dr. Julius Maada Bio, the Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, the Speaker of Parliament Dr. Abass Bundu, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Gender and Children's Affairs and Finance, members of the Female Parliamentary Caucus, and the Statistician-General of Statistics Sierra Leone.  Additionally, she will meet with members of the Diplomatic Corps and Heads of the International Financial Institutions (IFI), development partners, civil society organizations, women, and youth groups in Sierra Leone.  ASG/DED Asa Regner will also pay a courtesy call on the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi (Ph.D.), attend a special United Nations Country Team meeting and host a townhall-styled engagement with the UN Women team in the country.

She will give a keynote address at the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights 2022 (ACSHR 2022) with a focus on the Generation Equality Forum and the European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative.

Links to biographies:

  1. Assistant Secretary General Asa Regner:

https://www.unwomen.org/en/about-us/directorate/ded-policy-programme-civil-society-and-intergovernmental-support 

  1. Ms. Oulimata Sarr: https://africa.unwomen.org/en/about-us/regional-directorate/wcaro-regional-director

For more information, please contact:

  1. Patience Ekeoba: UN Women Programme Coordination Specialist; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Cellphone +23276042732
  2. Faisal Lewally: Assistant Coordinator; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Cellphone: +23299520730
  3. Yeama Sarah Thompson: Commissioned Communications Consultant; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Cellphone + 232 79107752

About UN-Women: UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes, and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. It works globally to make the vision of the SDGs a reality for women and girls and stands behind women's equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on four strategic priorities:

In his keynote address at this year’s World Justice Forum on ‘the Global State of Justice and the Rule of Law’, in The Hague, Netherlands, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohamed Lamin Tarawalley, has called for a collective action to support SDG 16 the creation of a peaceful, prosperous, just and inclusive global community.

According to the AG, the recent WJP Rule of Law Index shows that “globally more countries declined than improved in the overall rule of law performance for the fourth consecutive year”.

WJP Rule of Law Index reported that in a year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, 84.7% of the world’s population or approximately 6.5 billion people globally experience a decline in the performance rule of law.

The AG argues that a decline in rule of law performance puts nations at risk of failing to achieve the 2030 Agenda and, more frustratingly, seeing their hard-won development gains reversed.

He emphasised that establishing justice and strengthening the rule of law is a long-term investment that amasses massive dividends for the global village.

However, the AG noted that the government of Sierra Leone has made series of strides in this direction, adding that one of the government’s top priorities at the moment is a national action-oriented approach that seeks to advance the rule of law and access to justice in order to ensure a well prosperous, peaceful, just and inclusive society.

He opines that in order to achieve global order in terms of justice and strengthening of the rule of law the fundamental starting point to develop justice and the rule of law is at the national level. “It is my firm belief that what is usually practiced at the national level is what is translated or manifested at the global stage.”

The AG further explained that the Government of Sierra Leone continues to eliminate threats to democratic freedoms and human rights. And further stated that the resolve of the government in addressing all concerns in the Justice Sector is evident in every sphere of government administration.

“The Government of Sierra Leone has made tremendous strides in addressing various justice demands that touch and concern the socio-economic and political wellbeing of its subjects.”

He highlighted that among these are meaningful improvements in the areas of: free quality education, school feeding programmes; national water resources management mechanisms; reformation of the citizenship law to end discrimination against women who could not pass on citizenship to their children; adopted policies and laws aimed at strengthening gender equity and protection and guarantee women’s empowerment; development of laws eliminating inequality and discrimination; increasing of the maximum penalty for rape and sexual penetration of a child decriminalisation of half a century libel law by virtue of the amendment of Public Order Act (POA) 1965 that used to criminalize freedom of expression; the lifting of the ban on pregnant girls attending schools and the abolition of the death penalty and strengthening of the protection of the right to life.

However, conscious of the damaging impact of corruption on justice and rule of law, the Minister of Justice explained that the Government of Sierra Leone has put a robust fight against corruption.

In the fight to eradicate extreme poverty and sustainable socio-economic development, he said “the Government of Sierra Leone amended the Anti-Corruption Act in 2019 which gives more powers to the ACC it increases the fines, sentences and other powers of the Commission.  

Furthermore, he said the government took further steps by setting up three independent Commissions of Inquiry (COI) the purpose of this inquiry is to combat corruption, bring accountability in governance and foster economic growth for the people of Sierra Leone.

The Commission made findings at the conclusion against persons of interest and made adverse findings against the previous administration. Adding that most of these persons of interest at the COI are having their appeals heard before a fair, independent, and competent Court of Appeal in Sierra Leone.

Moreover, he said Sierra Leone has launched a new national anti-corruption strategy (NACS).

However, in terms of other relevant structural implementation indicators, the AG noted that “the Government of Sierra Leone signed on 9 December 2003 and ratified on 30 September 2003 the United Nations Convention against Corruption and signed on 9 December 2003 and ratified on 3 December 2008 the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences.”

The AG maintained that the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone has been and, is radically entrenched and successful. He revealed that countries in the sub-region such as Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria have sent researchers to come and study our anti-corruption strategies for onward implementation in their own countries.

“The indicator lights of these success stories speak for themselves. All thanks to the appointment of a young, robust and competent Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Commissioner, and the political and legal space given to him by the Government,” he said.

Transparency International 2019 Global Corruption Barometer for Africa identifies Sierra Leone as one of the success stories in the fight against corruption with 66% of Sierra Leoneans believing that the Government is doing a good job in the fight against corruption.

Prior to the appointment of the current Anti-corruption commissioner, the Minister of Justice explained “Sierra Leone was in the position of 49% in the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Control of Corruption (MCC) Scorecard, which under his astute leadership and full support of the government, the country has moved to a comfortable and respectable position at 71%, 79%, 81% and an excellent 83% in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively.” Similarly, according to the Afro Barometer survey in 2020, corruption prevalence in Sierra Leone has reduced from 70% in 2015 to 40% in 2020.

He said President Bio-led government strategy in the fight against corruption, has helped position the country on a firm and consistent path to sustainably keep corruption under control and set the stage for: accountability, effective service delivery, democratic good governance, and sustainable development.

“This mode of fighting corruption and success stories have also made Sierra Leone to be selected for the Multi-Million Dollar US Government’s Compact award.” Also adding that today, Sierra Leone is one of the top ten Performers in the Lower Income countries, which is a sign of commitment in controlling corruption.

The AG reiterated that Corruption indeed has been largely responsible for poverty across the world which in turn is contributing considerably to stagnating justice and the rule of law.

With regards to engagement with the Universal Periodic Process (UPR), the Minister of Justice that the Government of Sierra Leone has demonstrated consistent and effective engagement with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in its determination to make progress on human rights promotion and protection. Adding that Sierra Leone is honouring its reporting obligations under the relevant human rights conventions.

At the just-concluded 48th regular session of the Human Rights Committee, the AG said that “our 3rd Cycle UPR was adopted.” Sierra Leone accepted 216 of the 274-recommendations received and took note of 58. He emphasised that the Government is committed to fully implementing all the 216 accepted recommendations to build a better human rights architecture in Sierra Leone.

Despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, exposing member States to heightened vulnerabilities and to rethink delivery on the SDGs, “Sierra Leone in prioritizing Human Capital Development, as we continue to take action on our accelerated Goals, including SDG16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions,” the AG averred. He Further reiterated that Sierra Leone addressed the Second SDG Moment in the High-Level Week of the 76th UNGA session and presented her third Voluntary National Review report on the SDGs in 2021’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).

In the HLPF, “we reported on the action taken to scale up efforts towards operationalizing the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion to foster social cohesion and further consolidate peace in the country, following the enactment of the enabling legislation and appointment of the members of the board of the Commissioner, embodying an institution that is representative and gender-sensitive.”

The AG reveals that the Judiciary continues to expand access to justice with its presence established throughout the country.

“The Judiciary has had more judges appointed to address the acute shortage of judicial personnel, increase the capacity of courts to handle and reduce the backlog of cases,” he revealed.

The AG said that there has been an expansion of legal aid services to indigent and under-served persons through the Legal Aid Board scheme which provided free legal representation, advice, and related services to over 400,000 Sierra Leoneans in 2020, recording a 93% increase from 2018. Special courts to fast-track cases for sexual offences, social security, corruption, and small claims were established.

On the international front, the Minister of Justice said that Sierra Leone has graciously contributed to the strengthening of Justice and the rule of law at the international level as well. “At the international level, my country is deeply committed to the implementation of its international obligations.” Sierra Leone became the 100th member of the United Nations in 1961 and ratified most of the major human rights treaties or instruments, the foundation of which was built by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Sierra Leone is a signatory to: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1961 (CCPR), the International Covenant on Economic and Social and Cultural Rights 1966 (CESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 1979, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) 1984,  the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) 1981 and, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

“Most of these treaties have been domesticated in our country,” he said.

The Minister of Justice also explained that in a bid to curb impunity, Sierra Leone, after 11-years of brutal conflict, requested the United Nations to assist in establishing a Special Court for Sierra Leone to try and punish violations of human rights.

In 2002, a bilateral agreement was signed between the Sierra Leone Government and the United Nations to establish a Special Court with a mandate to bring to justice “those who bear the greatest responsibility” for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone since 30th November 1996.  

The Special Court was the first ‘hybrid’ international criminal court to be established – ‘hybrid’ in the sense that it involved a mixture of international and domestic laws and personnel. The said Court is described by independent international observers as a radical departure from the model of the ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (ICTY and ICTR) on the one hand, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the other, and was welcomed by many as a potentially more effective and efficient form of international criminal justice.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone concluded its mandates in 2013 and a Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone has been instituted to continue to monitor the sentences of the Special Court.

The importance of the RSCSL in ensuring the legacy of the Special Court for SL through carrying out the numerous legal and practical obligations that did not end with the conclusion of trial and appeal hearings cannot be overstated. One indictment remains outstanding- that of a former rebel leader Johnny Paul Koroma. The RSCSL continues to be an important legacy tool of deterrence in Sierra Leone where it has the confidence of the people of Sierra Leone. Respect for the rule of law, legislative reforms, capacity building, and the court and its predecessor’s impact on legal and judicial proceedings in Sierra Leone are all part of its important legacy

On the international scene, the RSCSL continues to be a court of rich resources for international justice being the successor of a court of many firsts, the SCSL continues to be a useful resource contributor to the international criminal tribunals’ residual mechanisms

Further, he added, “my country’s resolve to lend support in strengthening the International Criminal Court (ICC) to fight against impunity as part of its international obligations, a renowned Sierra Leone female jurist, Judge Miatta Samba, was elected as the 8th African woman to serve on the bench of the ICC. Justice Samba’s election to the bench of the ICC is described by many social and legal commentators as a victory for women’s legal professional acumen at both domestic and international level.”

In addressing sexual and gender-based violence, the Justice Minister said that President Bio during the General Debate in this 76th session of the General Assembly urged for global solidarity on access to justice and remedies for survivors of sexual violence. Based on his directive, the delegation of Sierra Leone requested the addition of the agenda item “International cooperation on access to justice for survivors of sexual violence”. The delegation of Sierra Leone is therefore to serve as the lead sponsor of a standalone resolution on the agenda item in the General Assembly.

However, these successes are without challenges, according to the AG prolonged pre-trial detention is still a menace in the criminal justice system and civil actions. This he said to a large extent is due to rules of procedures to follow before trials. He also noted that capacity building in all spheres within the context of “access to justice” is also another challenge.

The AG reiterates that to gain global justice and strengthen the rule of law, “a great place to start is in our respective national settings.” He said the road towards a world of justice, prosperity, and inclusiveness for all is not without assailants. “Oftentimes, the surge in the demand for justice has been endless and seemingly impossible to redress. Therefore, we must draw the strings of our collective efforts together in bringing about a peaceful, just, and prosperous global society.”

He calls for all hands on deck as “justice exists for all but realising it goes with huge sacrifices.”

“As an optimist, I have all rays of hope that we will someday get there. So, let’s continue to act and to fight,” the AG implored.

Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh as Chairman of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) on Friday 27th May, 2022 joined the Agency and several government Ministers to bring essential relief items to the people of Gbense and Gbane Chiefdoms in the Kono District. It could be recalled that heavy storm on Saturday 7th May, 2022 destroyed over 35 houses including the central mosque in Ngandorhun, the chiefdom headquarters of Gbane.

Speaking at the ceremony, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, who said he pursued his early education in Koidu, Gbense Chiefdom and district headquarters, explained the difficulties entailed in putting up a structure that takes several years with many assistance.The relief items the VP donated to the victims on behalf of the Agency included food items, soap, blankets and building materials respectively.

VP Jalloh, who conveyed a significant message of solidarity with the people of Gbense Chiefdom from His Excellency President Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, reported how indigenes from the chiefdom living in the Diaspora contributed US$4,000 towards the relief. He also spoke of how the ruling SLPP included the idea of a National Disaster Management Agency into the party’s 2018 Election Manifesto and how since its establishment it has brought relief to over 25,000 households and numerous businesses and institutions hit by disasters.

VP Juldeh Jalloh averred that the rationale behind establishing the Agency is to touch the lives of people in need of help to recover from the shock of disaster, and to show how Government comes to the aid of its citizenry affected by disaster(s). He promised that government will finance the agency adequately to continue doing its work.

The Church of God of Prophecy Primary School in the heart of Makeni city has benefitted from the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of Qommodity/Tandem Liber Holdings Limited. It could be recalled that quite recently, a violent windstorm raged across Makeni city in the Northeast Region of the country that resulted in considerable damage to buildings, especially the roofs, including one of the buildings of the Church of God Prophecy Primary School that was completely unroofed.

Stakeholders including the Headmistress, Board of Trustees, Makeni City Council (MCC), the Ministry of Basic and Senior School Education (MBSSE) and parents felt so lost following the windstorm.

They never knew where to turn for immediate help to re-roof the building with schools still in SESSION And they third term exams was in progress.... Pupils will only attend classes when there is no rain because the classrooms has no roof to cover the children... The used wood stumps as tables and chairs as seats.... The entire school has no water facilities as the machines on the hand dug wells has been stolen away...... The school lacks all the amenities that you can think of as the entire school has nothing for sanitation (TOILETS)..

Consequently, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) took up the onus to advocate for the re-roofing of the unroofed school building. Qommodity/Tandem Liber had information about the school’s predicament through a social media platform.

On Monday 17th May 2022, a very colourful ceremony was organized on the school campus to thank Qommodity for what the Deputy City Mayor’s of Makeni described as the timely re-roofing of the unroofed building of the school.

The occasion attracted parents and a huge turnout of very appreciative teachers and pupils.

A very eloquent Class Six pupil extolled the virtues of Qommodity, describing them as Gold mining company currently with a small scale mining LIC in mabonto and that are set to apply for exploration licenses from the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL).

According to Qommodity/TLH they dished out Le45 Million to effect the repairs. The General Manager of Qommodity/TLH, Sierra Leonean-born Abdul Mawlaiyah Kamara, gave a very emotionally laden message to the pupils. He narrated how he had to fetch woods and plums to be able to afford lunch. He said that did not deter him from pursuing his education.

The General Manager assured the pupils that they can become whatever they choose to be provided they make efforts to become educated, adding that they should see themselves as the future leaders of Sierra Leone.

Qommodity/TLH Chairman and CEO, Edward Meijers, reiterated the same message to the pupils, stressing that only the sky will be their limit in their pursuit of EDUCATION if the work hard and stay focused on the horizon.

Addressing teachers after an inspection of the school facilities and their stressed conditions, Meijers recognized their sacrifice and commitment in rendering their services to mankind and to transfer their knowledge to the future leaders as knowledge is power.

A man of his words, he told the teachers that he has seen the felt needs of the school and will focus on them immediately.

The CEO furthered that he would not make promises and that he had learnt to be self-reliant since he joined the Army at a very tender age. He therefore entreated the teachers to be strong and faithful..... He promised that the school authorities will hear something from the management through their General Manager as soon as possible but will first do cost analysis.

Religion is a strong unifying force among Sierra Leoneans, Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh deputizing His Excellency the President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio on Sunday 29th May 2022 joined hundreds of people at Hill Station for the opening and dedication of the Ilmo Zikre Mosque.