A UN rights expert said Tuesday that Sierra Leone’s decision to de-facto remove all three members of its Human Rights Commission was an attack on the rule of law and must be reversed.
In April 2017 three human rights commissioners were appointed to the commission for a five-year term. However, in June 2018, the President of Sierra Leone, elected in March 2018, ordered the commission’s dissolution, without citing a reason. The commissioners have not been formally dismissed, but in August the new government asked the public to nominate three replacements.
“The Government’s decision to de-facto dissolve the Commission’s current membership undermines the rule of law in Sierra Leone and distracts from efforts to promote and protect human rights, and human rights defenders in the country, the Sierra Leonean authorities should immediately rectify their actions by allowing the commissioners to conclude their five-year term,” said Michel Forst, appointed in 2014 as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) was established in 2004 by an Act of Parliament. The principal objective of the Commission is to protect and promote human rights throughout the country. The UN Special Rapporteur is pursuing the case with Sierra Leonean authorities.