Annual Report: Sierra Leone 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Sierra Leone 2010

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Head of state and government Ernest Bai Koroma
Death penalty retentionist
Population 5.7 million
Life expectancy 47.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 160/136 per 1,000
Adult literacy 38.1 per cent

Violence erupted in March between supporters of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) and the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), during which people were seriously injured and there were allegations of rape and other sexual assaults. Sexual and gender-based violence against women continued, including harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM). The government made efforts to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality.

Background

Political violence erupted between APC and SLPP supporters in three areas of the country in March in the run-up to local elections. In Pujehun in the south, violence between 9 and 12 March left several people seriously injured. In Freetown, violence between 13 and 16 March resulted in injuries and the looting of the SLPP headquarters; there were also allegations of rape and other sexual assault of SLPP supporters. In Kenema between 13 and 14 March, violence and arson attacks targeted APC supporters.

In April, a Joint Communiqué Adherence Committee facilitated by the UN and the Political Parties Registration Commission was established and agreed by APC and SLPP representatives, which helped to defuse tensions. In July, the government appointed a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the reasons for the violence and the allegations of rape and other sexual assaults. An independent review panel was not constituted. The same month, the Independent Media Commission reported that radio stations owned by the APC and SLPP appeared to have contributed to the violence with hate speech, and that their licences would be withdrawn. Members of civil society were concerned that the ruling of the commission threatened freedom of expression.

In September and October, the government deployed soldiers to help police in response to public concerns about the police's response to a sharp rise in armed robberies.

In May, the government launched the Agenda for Change, its second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. It was used as the framework to seek donor funding at the Sierra Leone Investment and Donor Conference held in London, the UK, in November.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) made significant progress. In February, four public officers were indicted on various counts of corruption. In June, two former senior officials of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service and the former Ombudsman were convicted of misappropriation of funds and sentenced to jail and/or heavy fines. In May, the ACC reviewed the work of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and made several recommendations to improve the health care delivery system and reduce the risk of corrupt practices in the Ministry. In October, the Minister of Health was charged with corruption and subsequently dismissed. A fast-track anti-corruption court with dedicated judges and prosecutors, which had been proposed by the ACC in 2008, had not been established by the end of the year.

Some progress was made in implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) - established after the 1991-2002 civil war - but no follow-up committee was appointed and the constitutional review process stalled. The mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) was renewed in September for a further year.