Annual Report: Sierra Leone 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Sierra Leone 2013

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  • In April, police killed an unarmed woman, Musu Conteh, and injured at least 11 others when workers at a mining company held a peaceful demonstration against poor working conditions and remuneration. The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone investigated the incident and released its findings in September which included recommendations for criminal investigations and prosecutions. The government initiated a Coroner's Inquest into the killing but the investigation had not concluded by the end of the year. No one was held to account.
  • In June, police shot and killed Alieu Sonkoh and Ishmael Kargbo-Sillah in Wellington. A third man was seriously injured. According to the families and community members who witnessed the incident, the unarmed men were part of a neighbourhood watch group who were in the area where police were looking for a vehicle. The President visited the community and set up a Coroner's Inquest, which closed in July. The results of the investigation had not been made public by the end of the year.
  • In June, a motorcyclist was shot and killed by police in Goderich when he failed to stop at a police checkpoint. One officer was arrested and charged with murder. The trial continued at the end of the year.

Civil society groups called for an effective independent oversight mechanism to investigate complaints and hold the police to account.

Right to health

The government made some progress towards ensuring that the Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI), launched in 2010, became a reality for pregnant women and girls, lactating women and girls, and children aged under five. In June, the government passed the National Pharmaceutical Procurement Unit Act to monitor and regulate the supply chain of drugs and medical equipment. Health staff continued to report problems in receiving essential supplies.

Challenges remained in implementing the FHCI. Health facilities continued to charge fees for health care services that were intended to be free. A toll-free line, set up to enable people to make complaints if they did not receive the care to which they were entitled, was set up but the process was subject to delays and inefficiencies.

The overall budget for the health sector was reduced from 11% to 7.4% in 2012, or just half of the 15% recommended by the Abuja Declaration on health funding.

Women's and girls' rights

In August, the Sexual Offences Act was passed but had not been enacted by the end of the year. Discriminatory provisions remained under Section 27(4)(d) of the Constitution, in relation to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death, or other interests of personal law.

The level of violence against women and girls remained high and harmful traditional practices, such as early marriage and female genital mutilation, continued.

Corporate accountability

Land use agreements between communities, corporations and the government greatly favoured multinational corporations over local communities. Tracts of land were given over by traditional chiefs to companies with little or no adequate consultation with affected communities. Land agreements were often not available in local languages or made accessible for non-literate people. Community members and civil society organizations that spoke out in favour of corporate accountability and transparency faced harassment and intimidation.

In April, farmers, civil society organizations and activists gathered in Freetown to demand a review of all recent land deals. They called on the government to institute measures to ensure that deals between communities and multinational corporations were fair and transparent.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Sierra Leone in April/May and September.
  • Sierra Leone: Briefing on the events in Bumbuna (AFR 51/004/2012)
  • Seven-point human rights agenda for candidates in Sierra Leone's 2012 elections (AFR 51/005/2012)
  • Taylor verdict sends message that no one is above the law (PRE01/226/2012)