That Loud Silence From Our Human Rights Commission!

Many Sierra Leoneans are stunned at the silence of the country’s Human Rights Commission over the incidents on Friday last week. Since the controversial inauguration of the Commissioners, after so many national and international wrangling, that borders on the Presidential appointees, we are yet to see the United Nations Class A. Commission speaking out very clearly to condemn the APC, SLPP and the Sierra Leone Police over the rising tensions in Sierra Leone.

Almost all political parties, including the APC, NGC, ADP, C4C and other civil society and interreligious organizations have condemned the weekend actions of the judiciary and the Sierra Leone Police, and have made crucial recommendations towards this end. Why should a critical institution like the HRCSL delay in making its position very clearly?

The continuous silence of the HRCSL, to condemn the actions of the Police and the two political parties, points out the many concerns Sierra Leoneans have raised over the neutrality of the Chairperson of the Commission, who is reported to be a close family relation of a minister in the present government.

We have known the HRCSL for expressing its unilateral stance over human rights abuses especially by the Sierra Leone Police. We are surprised that the Madam, at the Commission’s initial engagements with the press, promised to work without fear and favour and ensured that the rights of Sierra Leoneans are protected.

The mandate of the HRCSL is elaborate and therefore it should be the first amongst all others to condemn human rights abuses and all actions that are inimical to peace and the observance of peace and democracy. The HRCSL was busy attending a Regional Consultative Conference in Ghana while its house was on fire.

The pictures of the attacks at the APC office had gone viral to the rest of the world and the HRCSL could not even issue a single press release as a way of committing their unflinching stance to protect human rights in the country.

We call on the HRCSL not to derail the indefatigable status of the Commission around the world. The United Nations had tagged it as Class A due to the hard work of the former Commissioners under the former regimes of President Kabbah and Ernest Koroma.

They laid a very strong foundation devoid of political sentiments. The current Commission and Commissioners were portrayed in a very negative light to the point that the Human Rights Defenders presented a very negative picture of the Government and their attempt to appoint other Commissioners after having sacked three who had tenure of office. There were several wrangling and Government, through the Attorney General and the Government Ambassador at Geneva, Ambassador Dr. Lans Gberie, expressly stated the Government’s position on the issue at the international stage.

There were even insinuations that the Class A status of the Commissions would be withdrawn. Now that the dust has settled on all of this we should be seeing the Commission proving their detractors wrong by coming out very robustly to condemn what is happening from whatever angle.

Many of the releases, we have seen over the last few days, have squarely blamed the SLLP, the APC and the Sierra Leone Police and called for dialogue as the way out.

Nightwatch would not be impressed, so also with many Sierra Leoneans, if the HRCSL issued a statement any time from now to state what would be their position on the current rising tensions. This is largely because they will only be towing the line when many others have come out.

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