Progress in Sierra Leone peace process enables more human rights work UN

Sierra Leone’s remarkable progress in implementing the peace process has opened up human rights work in the country to address past abuses and violations, advocacy, capacity building, education and institution building, according to a new report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The main challenges remain addressing past abuses and redressing present-day violations while developing national capacity to promote and protect human rights, the report to the UN General Assembly on the human rights situation in Sierra Leone says. It stresses that this effort would entail a sizeable investment, sustained follow-up of efforts and a full appreciation of existing gaps. “The institutional, material and moral destruction resulting from the conflict is prodigious and requires a multifaceted approach,” the report says, adding that the High Commissioner’s Office in collaboration with the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), will continue to play its role in responding to the country’s human rights needs. “One way of doing this is by deepening working relationships with local State and non-State actors, especially stakeholders within civil society, in order to persuade representatives at the senior level that the consolidation and institutionalization of the human rights agenda is needed.” The report suggests that the Office of the High Commissioner should continue to support the UNAMSIL Human Rights section to consolidate its important role as a catalyst and facilitator of the human rights cause in Sierra Leone. “Its support to the bodies vested with the functions of dealing with past abuses – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Court – should continue to be prioritized, taking into consideration the independence of those institutions,” it says. Meanwhile, there should also be continued emphasis on developing modules for the training of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies on human rights in the administration of justice, with special emphasis on the due process of law and the handling of juvenile offenders, as well as the respect of human rights of women, internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups.

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