The representative from the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Mr. Solomon Sogbandi spoke on the role of CSOs in the UPR process; which he said CSOs submitted non-state actors report to the UNHCR that entails observation and recommendations among other roles.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Mr. Sunil Saigal gave a brief synopsis about the establishment of the UPR on human rights which he said, came into being by the United Nations General Assembly 60/251 of 15th March, 2006; adding that it also created the Human Rights Council which is mandated to undertake a universal periodic review.
He said Sierra Leone’s third review will look at the period 2017-2021; noting that, the government has placed the strengthening of the country’s human capital at the centre of its Medium-Term National Development Plan, with a focus on free and quality education for all, accelerating health care delivery, enhancing environmental sanitation, social protection, housing and land management and at the same time giving priority to women, children, adolescents and persons with disability, to youth employment and to the reduction of vulnerabilities and building resilience.
Representing the Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Hon. Momoh Bockarie said that as a committee, they are obliged as per their mandate as in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and other Parliamentary regulatory statutory documents of the Standing Orders, that they have a duty to protect and promote human rights in the country and that, added to their mandate, they also provided an oversight over state and non-state actors and institutions working in the field of human right in the country.
The Irish Representative Niv Kavanah in her statement said the UPR is an important accountability mechanism for those countries committed to promoting and protecting human rights. She said the UPR encourages valuable self-reflection on the part of government and frank and constructive evaluation and feedback from civil society partners and peer UN member states and that it enables them to hold themselves accountable to measure their progress towards their international commitments and how they are delivering for the most vulnerable in their societies.
Giving the Keynote address at the opening ceremony, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Jacob Jusu Saffa told the audience that, his address was to fill them with hope and confidence that, government participation in the two-day validation workshop was to review and endorse the government’s human rights midterm report that will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council following the workshop.
He said the ‘New Direction’ Government has and will continue to give keen attention to the basic principles of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.
The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs said the tireless efforts that was put into the completion of this year’s draft report was a clear demonstration of government’s commitment to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and respect for its basic principles of consultation and cooperation with all stakeholders.