In collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) has on Friday 3 August, 2018, concluded a day seminar on the theme, “Strengthening and protecting Human Rights in Africa” at the Ministry’s conference hall, Tower Hill, Freetown.
The seminar which attracted participants from government Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), representatives of Parliament, Human Rights organisations, the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and Civil Society Organisations is aimed at enhancing the on-going efforts of the Court to interact with different stakeholders in order to deepen their understanding of the Court’s mission and to encourage the State authorities to ratify the Protocol establishing the AfCHPR and to deposit the declaration under Article 34(6) of the protocol, which allows direct access to the Court by NGOs and individuals.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kabba whilst welcoming participants to the seminar stressed that the New Direction programme of His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio in several chapters articulates the need to prioritise human rights in the governance of the country underscoring that the Head of State has committed to seriously consider the request for Sierra Leone to ratify the Protocol for the establishment of the African Court after studying the case for doing so. “Sierra Leone is already a member of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and has signed the protocol on the establishment of the African Court”, he added. The Foreign Minister assured the African Court delegation of his Ministry’s preparedness and readiness to execute the President’s directive in this regard. “Let me express my Ministry’s immense appreciation to the African Court delegation for Visiting Sierra Leone to sensitise high level political leaders and other stakeholders on the benefits of the ratification of the Protocol Establishing the African Court”, Dr. Kabba concluded.
The President of the AfCHPR, Hon. Justice Sylvian Ore’ in his brief remarks encouraged participants and the respective stakeholders to put their shoulders to the wheel to promote the objects of Human Rights in Africa.
In his address on behalf of the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice before officially declaring the seminar open, Mr. Alimamy Sesay Esq. highlighted some of the necessary measures government has put in place under the New Direction agenda to sensitise Government and people on the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, pursuant to Article 1 of the protocol of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, with a view to fulfilling the mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. He echoed that the New Direction programme will continue to strengthen the protection of human rights. He assured that the office of the Attorney General and Justice Ministry will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and all sectoral MDAs and cooperate with civil society organisations, to get Government imitate efforts towards considering the ratification of the protocol to the Charter and deposit the requisite declaration pursuant to Articles 34(6) of the same. “It is our hope that, Sierra Leone will be the 31st Member State to ratify the Protocol and the 9th State Party to make the declaration pursuant to Article 34(6) aforesaid, allowing direct access to your court by individuals and non-governmental organisations”, Mr. Sesay concluded.
Statements were also delivered on the theme by: the Executive Director, Legal Aid Board, Mrs. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hancilles; the Executive Director of Human Rights Commission Sierra Leone, Joseph B. Kamara; and the President of the Bar Association, Mrs. Bassita Michael.s
A presentation on an overview of the African Court was done by Hon. Justice Gerard Niyungeko and discussions, inputs, recommendations and suggestions climaxed the seminar. The Seminar was chaired by the Deputy Director General for Policy and Technical Cooperation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Michael Kargbo.