The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), in collaboration with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has trained Commissioners and staff in Freetown in a bid to ensure effective monitoring of the implementation of the UPR recommendations.
The UPR is a state-driven process under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and fulfill their human rights obligations.
The objectives of the training were to increase awareness on the UPR and how to engage with the mechanism; raise awareness on monitoring the implementation of the UPR recommendations for mid-term and periodic shadow reporting, engage in identifying solutions to obstacles and strengthen coordination among national CSOs/NHRC including organisations working in different regions of the country, when advocating on human rights through the UPR.
Facilitators from UPR Info shared good practices for NHRIs in monitoring and implementation of the UPR and a methodology to identify indicators to monitor the implementation of UPR recommendations and adapt them to the national context.
Staff members make salient contributions on the UPR process, with specific reference to Sierra Leone, which underwent a review of its human rights record at the 3rd Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council (the Council) in May 2021.
Tom Sandi, Deputy Director and Head of HRCSL’s Eastern Region office, raised a concern with regards compromise, as the Commission is monitoring and at the same implementing and submitting alternative reports on the UPR process.
Monica Aruna said the UPR is a new concept to her but with the knowledge acquired during the training, it will enhance her understanding and also improved her monitoring skill as a staff of the Directorate of Monitoring and Research.
Chairperson of HRCSL, Madam Patricia Narsu Ndanema said the training indicates that UPR matters is not only limited to the Directorate of Treaty Body Reporting and Other International Mechanisms but the business of every staff of the Commission.
“The Commission being the critical stakeholder in reminding government of its reporting obligations to international and regional treaty bodies as required by Section (7) 2(e) of the HRCSL act of 2004, fully participated in all the preparatory phases for the achievement of the said reporting mechanism,” she said.
She noted that the Commission has been very proactive in advising government on UPR recommendations through the line ministries; Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, raising awareness and conducting consultations at national and regional levels to encourage domestic actors take part in the process.
Executive Directive of UPR, Mona M’Bikay stated that they support stakeholders through capacity building, developing technical tools to facilitate engagement in the UPR process and organising events to encourage cooperation between parties.
“We are indeed in the middle of the UPR cycle for Sierra Leone. This represents a key moment also for HRCSL that can contribute with its work to the assessment of measures taken by the Government to respond to the human rights commitment taken,” she said.
According to her, the HRCSL can play a critical role in monitoring and supporting the implementation of the UPR recommendations based on its mandate to educate and raise awareness about human rights, review legislations and monitor human rights violations.