Sierra Leone Human Rights
Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone
Stability and security have increased in Sierra Leone since 2002 with the end of the country's decade-long war. However, Sierra Leoneans face grinding poverty; economic justice eludes them. The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is trying leaders from the civil war of the 1990s, completed three trials convicting seven individuals of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The trial of Liberia's former President Charles Taylor continues. Female genital mutilation remains prevalent in the country. Rape and domestic violence cases need more aggressive prosecution, and women need better access to justice and healthcare. The maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is one of the highest in the world. In a November 2007 Presidential election widely regarded as free and fair, Ernest Koroma of the All People's Congress defeated the sitting Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People's Party.
Violence and Discrimination Against Women
Using the Child Rights Act (2007), NGOs made some gains in their campaign to stop the practice of FGM among girls below the age of 18. Some traditional leaders imposed by-laws in their communities outlawing the practice of FGM for children.
- In February, four women journalists were abducted, stripped and forced to parade naked through the streets of Kenema by women initiators of FGM who said that the journalists were disrupting their tradition. After the journalists were released, the police took no action against the alleged attackers.
There were allegations that women were raped and otherwise sexually assaulted during the March political violence. The Commission of Inquiry set up in July concluded that sexual violence did take place but that rape did not. No action was taken against those alleged to have perpetrated sexual violence. Civil society and women's rights groups contested the findings of the inquiry.
- A woman in the northern district of Kono was barred from chieftaincy elections in November because of her gender.