The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has hosted its first-ever mobile complaints hearing session at Masiaka town, Port Loko district, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Irish Aid.
Masiaka town is located 40 miles (65 km) from Freetown. It is one of the major towns in the northern part of the country and it is strategically placed and connects many other parts of the country. The population of Masiaka is estimated to be more than 10,000, largely from the Temne ethnic group with business as their main source of livelihood.
The hearing started with engagement of community stakeholders and residents within and outside Masiaka town on the work of the Commission.
Commissioner Hassan Samba Yarjah, Oversight Commissioner for DCILS said human rights has been the most misunderstood concept as some people are of the view that it comes from the white. He said every right go with a corresponding responsibility, adding that human right has to do with respect for one another.
He spoke about the mandate of the commission to monitor all prisons and detention facilities across the country and encouraged residents, especially the youths to make use of opportunity by bringing to the notice of the Commission issues affecting the full enjoyment of their rights.
In 2017, the HRCSL introduced its Mobile Complaints Hearing with the objective to receive complaints of human rights violations from communities that cannot easily access the Commission’s offices in Freetown and in the regions for redress.
It was also meant to increase the Commission’s visibility in hard-to-reach communities and to also engage in public education on the Commission’s activities, as well as on the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
Only one (1) complaint which has to do with child maintenance was received at the Masiaka Community Recovery Center, Bo Road in Masiaka town, Port Loko district.
The complainant, Isatu Kanu of Masiaka Town said: “I believe in the Commission that is why I decided to put forward my case to them. I hope to have justice in this matter at the end of the day.”
On behalf of the Paramount Chief of Koya chiefdom, Pa Alimamy Bomboli praised the Commission for its work in the protection and promotion of human rights over the years and for taking their services to the doorstep of the people in Masiaka town. He implored the Commission to continue such engagements to other communities within the Port Loko district.
The HRCSL team also carried out public education in schools and monitored visits to police stations and healthcare centers.