MFAIC Commences UPR Validation Workshop

MFAIC Press Office Freetown: Wednesday 24th July, 2019


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with Irish Embassy, has commenced a two-day validation workshop for the Government of Sierra Leone Human Rights Universal Periodic Review Mid-term Report at the Ministry’s main Conference Hall, at Tower Hill, Freetown from Wednesday 24th to 25th July, 2019.

In her statement at the opening session of the workshop, the Chairman of the Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Patricia N. Ndanema stated that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Human Rights is one of the greatest achievement in the history of the global struggle for Human Rights, as it gives states the opportunity to assess one another and also serves as best practice mechanism for duty bearers who are determined to ensure the enjoyment or realization of human rights by right holders.

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 was 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 Rights 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.

Representing the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Napoleon Koroma in his statement spoke on the important benefits of the UPR mechanism which he said provided  an inclusive platform for all stakeholders to meet and identify strengths and gaps in the Human Rights protection system and also proffered solutions on how to overcome remaining challenges.

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.

Minister Saffa went on to state that, the implementation of the 208 recommendations in the last UPR Cycle review was underway through a government-wide multi-sectorial approach. This approach he said, mainstream and offer stand-alone interventions on cross-cutting human rights issues such as gender equality, equity and empowerment; child protection; environmental management; healthcare and infrastructure provision, improved education management, prioritization of universal basic education and the rights of all girls to education among others.

He said the work of the Inter-Ministerial Human Rights Steering Committee and the New Direction Government cross-cutting approach to the implementation of the UPR recommendations meant that their efforts are firmly rooted and consistent with a human rights-based approach to governance.

This the Acting Minister said has manifested in the speeches and actions of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio. Whereof His Excellency the President speak of the workforce in the country, he does so from a human rights perspective and when the government invested billions of Leones to expand access to education for all, especially for girls, disabled, HIV/AIDs and Ebola Survivors, the President has in mind the obligation to promote the human right to quality education for his fellow citizens.

Venezuela Special Envoy Calls on Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs

MFAIC Press Office Freetown: Tuesday 16th July, 2019

The Special Envoy from the Embassy of The Bolivarian of Venezuela accredited to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Chad and ECOWAS, His Excellency David Nieves Velasquez Caraballo on Tuesday 16th July, 2019 called on the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Solomon J. Jamiru ESQ at his Tower Hill Office in Freetown.

In his statement, he gave a brief update about the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM), which he said, is a forum of about 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc adding that, it is the largest grouping of states after the United Nations.

He said since the formation of the organization, NAM has been holding several conferences in different countries and that this year, his country, Venezuela will be hosting the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement scheduled for the 18th – 21st of July, 2019 in Caracas, Bolivarian, Republic of Venezuela.

His Excellency Caraballo said during the Ministerial meeting, the Foreign Minister of Venezuela will meet with colleague Ministers and Representatives to discuss issues that will further strengthen and deepen the bilateral ties.

He said Sierra Leone and Venezuela has been sharing strong bilateral ties and that his country has been providing aid in the area of education among other areas.

The special Envoy added that, his country is very willing to continue to strengthen and deepen the bilateral relationship with Sierra Leone by investing in the areas of education, mining, tourism, oil, economic and diplomacy.

In his response, the Acting Minister, Hon. Solomon J. Jamiru ESQ, welcomed the Special envoy and conveyed on behalf of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio and the people of Sierra Leone, his sincere sentiments and commitment in strengthening and deepening the bilateral cooperation between the two countries and extended same to His Excellency, Nicolas Madura President of Venezuela.

Acting Minister Jamiru stated that, the visit of the Special Envoy indicated a very strong commitment of the Government of Venezuela to continue to strengthen and deepen the bilateral ties with Sierra Leone.

He said Sierra Leone will participate in the Ministerial meeting and that they as a government are looking forward to signing some of the agreements either at the Ministerial meeting or then on the margin of the UNGA in September this year.

He said within the context of political and economic situation, it is important that Venezuela has such an important coalition of friendly relations with countries.

Minister Jamiru thanked the Government and people of Venezuela for making Sierra Leone one of the beneficiaries of scholarship opportunities in higher education across a range of different disciplines including medicine.

He entreated that Venezuela continue to favorably consider Sierra Leone to benefit from such cooperation and opportunities.

He noted the interest of Venezuela in exploring opportunities in the country in the agriculture, oil and other sectors, adding that it’s important for him to note that, the country has formulated the Mid Term National Development Plan that contained 8 important clusters including Human Capital Development and Education which are pivotal in the ‘New Direction’ Government.

He said as a government they have rolled out the Free Quality Education for primary, junior and senior school pupils which is currently benefiting about two million children in the country; adding that it will be important for Venezuela to consider how such an important cluster defining the country’s national development agenda could be factored within the portfolio of opportunities for Sierra Leone.

He concluded that as a government, they are committed in ensuring that the two countries continue to strengthen their bilateral ties.

Sierra Leone and Belgium Sign Air Transport Agreement

MFAIC Press Office Freetown: Wednesday 3rd July, 2019

The Governments of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Kingdom of Belgium on Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019 signed an air transport agreement aiming at strengthening and deepening the bilateral relations and to promote effective regulatory control of air transport services between the two countries.
Speaking at the ceremony which was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister’s Conference room, 5th Floor, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Hugues Chantry said that, the bilateral agreement was a new version of an agreement that had been in existence since 1974 and that it’s a modernized version which has already been negotiated in 2009.
Sierra Leone and Belgium, the Ambassador said, have been enjoying very good relationship, adding that his country has always been there to assist and support Sierra Leone during trying times.
He said the signing process was a double pleasure for him and very unfortunate as he will be leaving his post and finishing his tour of duty in Sierra Leone as an Ambassador of Belgium who has left an indelible mark in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
In his statement, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Alhaji Kanja Sesay welcomed His Excellency Hugues Chantry on behalf of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, the Government and People of Sierra Leone.
He said, he noted with pleasure the excellent bilateral relationship that is existing between Sierra Leone and the Kingdom of Belgium for several decades which has been mutually beneficial.
The Minister said the signing ceremony was to further strengthen and deepen the relationship between the two countries in specific areas including air transport. He expressed hope that the agreement will put in place very effective regulatory mechanisms.
The Acting Minister acknowledged the immense and excellent relationship that exists between the two countries, noting that during the country’s Ebola Crisis, SN Brussels was one of the few international airlines that particularly stood with Sierra Leone in providing regular flights to and from Sierra Leone.
He also noted Belgium’s support during the 2017 flood and mudslide disaster in which the country also benefited immensely in the area of humanitarian assistance to the victims.
Hon. Minister Sesay said, the Government of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio also recognised the direct investments from the Kingdom of Belgium which have aided in accelerating the impressive economic growth of the country.
He concluded that the signing ceremony will symbolise and further strengthen the bilateral ties between the two countries. He wished the Ambassador well in his new assignment.
Present at the ceremony were the Acting Director General, Mr. Lungi, DDG Policy, Dr. Joe Nyuma, Directors and Deputy Directors from various divisions.