Executive Secretary HRDN-SL Alphonsus Gbanie said the new policy would have detrimental impact on civil society organizations, adding that they are dismayed that in December 2017 and prior to March 2018 the new NGO policy was surreptitiously adopted by the GOSL, containing the same obnoxious provisions that would impose severe restrictions on the right to freedom of association and freedom of expression, which are guaranteed in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and under international law.
Gbanie maintained that HRDN-SL would like to point out that the rights to freedom of association and expression are critical means for individuals and groups of individuals to contribute meaningfully to a democratic society.
Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights according to Gbanie similarly protects the right to associate. He added that the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) has in several communications and reports emphasized on the duty of states to abstain from interfering with the free formation of associations.
“The network acknowledges the joint position statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression; and the special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to the Human Rights Council in Geneva 22 February 2018 pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 34/18 and 34/5,” he said.