By Mohamed Jalloh
There are two universally standardized measures for the testing of pure water; these are Acidic and Alkaline tests. For any consumable water, it is expected to be of pure taste and odour free.
When the water test is applied, there are certain requirements to be fulfilled. If the water depicts a colour of sky blue, it said to have passed the Alkaline test of pure water and is fit for human consumption.
On the other hand, if the water colour displays a red depiction, the water is said to be acidic and impure for human consumption.
Over the years, the proliferation of water companies is visible across the capital city Freetown with bogus names creating the impression of producing pure water. In actual fact, most of these companies are producing contaminated water that kills people slowly.
The production of adulterated water has the unlimited propensity to igniting a water borne pandemic such as Cholera and Diarrhea.
Even though, there is a water regulation commission, the lackluster mode of law implementation has only aided the proliferation of tainted water companies for drinking purposes.
At present, the water producing company that has attracted attention for the wrong reasons is the Grafton Water Company.
The parliamentary oversight committee on water resources has ordered the closure of the company for failing to renew their licenses for the production of water.
According to procedures, the company must obtain the certificate of justness, analysis and the Sierra Leone standards in relation to requirements set by the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau for pure water.
The test conducted shows that the Grafton Company does not meet the specifications and the overwhelming presence of acidity could make the water un-edible for people to drink.
Honourable Lahai Marah, the chairman on the committee on water resources has stated that the Grafton water Company is producing acidic water, which is not fit for human consumption.
The parliamentarian went further to substantiate his claims
“The company on January 2020 supplied polluted water to parliament, as a result parliament ended up replacing Grafton Water with the product of Luvian water Company”. Hon Marah disclosed.
However, Andrew Senesie, Quality Assurance Manager has confirmed that it is natural phenomenon for water to contain some acidic elements because the human system needs acid for survival.
“We are in the process of using reagents to ensure the minimum availability of acid in the Grafton water. But these substances are not available in the country so we have to outsource them from oversees” Mr. Senesie noted.
Mr Senesie furthered that the company has done the PH test for specification requirement and the samples would be delivered to Standards Bureau for further testing.
“What people should remember is that our products are sometimes pirated so people misconstrue these fake products for Grafton products”. The quality manager stated.
Given the fact that the Sierra Leonean market is overwhelmed by Grafton products, people are now caught in a state of dilemma. Many can hardly decipher the difference between pure and impure water, thereby endangering the lives of the members of the public.
ACC Investigation Reveals Massive Corruption in MDAs
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on Monday 31st of August 2020 informed the general public that they have taken actions and steps to address critical issues which arose in the Auditor General’s Audit Reports of Sierra Leone. The aim is to intervene and focus on issues of “possible or alleged” corruption, and “Conduct” inconsistent with Provision(s) in the ACC Act of 2008.
ACC discovered that twenty-one issues attracted the attention of the commission; with the intention to “investigate, Prosecute or recover public funds, public revenue, public property.” In light of this, the Commission has charged two (2) matters to court. There are thirteen (13) which are “ongoing active” investigation; whilst two (2) has been closed. According to the Press release, it was due to “Lack of sufficient evidence.’’ According to the press release, four institutions were under serious investigation for alleged or possible corruption. These institutions include: Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA), University of Sierra Leone (USL), National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT), and the Emergency Operation Centre (OEC) and National Ebola Response Centre (NERC).
It was revealed that, a certain amount of One billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty-seven million, Three Hundred and Sixty-four thousand, Two hundred and Twenty-four Leones (Le 1,757,364,224) that was transferred to both EDSA and Electricity Generation and Transmission Authority (EGTC) to the Ministry of Energy and Power (MEP) was to settle the liabilities of the National Power Authority (NPA). “MEP submitted variable supporting documents” according to the ACC; as such the investigation was closed. However, the sum of Sixty-two Million (Le 62,000,000) was “dangling” at the Ministry of Energy’s Account, the commission recommended for the amount to be transfer to both EDSA and EGTC.
In addition, an amount of Twenty-nine billion, nine hundred and Two million, four hundred and Fifty-nine thousand, Si hundred and thirty-five Leones (Le 29,902,459,635) paid to a certain institution without contractual agreement. Accordingly, there was an overcast amount of Four billion, One hundred and Two million Leones (Le 4,102,000,000) to National Petroleum (NP). It was revealed that the quantity supplied was less that what was paid. ACC has instructed NP to pay back to the State the aforementioned amount.
With respect to University of Sierra Leone (USL), the ACC has obtained the required financial and other documents to be consistent with the statement made by the officials of USL. As for NASSIT, the ACC has found ‘no Ghost’ beneficiaries that was alleged. Whilst for the OEC/NERC, the blanket “No Objection” issued by the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) made it difficult for the Commission to apportion responsibility for “breaking of Procurement rules and Processes, Poor records keeping, etc.”
ACC also notify the public that they have recovered Two Billion, Seven Hundred and Forty-two Million, One Hundred and Eight-five thousand, Three hundred and Four Leones, Sixty-one cents (Le 2,742,185,304.61).
Five PHUs Rehabilitated in Bonthe to Reduce Maternal and Child Morality
By Mohamed Massaquoi
Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation (I) has said, government has rehabilitated PHUs in Bonthe district as strategy to reduce martinal and child morality rate in that part of the country and Sierra Leone as a whole.
Dr. Anthony Sandi while addressing stakeholders and members of the Bonthe Community last Thursday at the district council hall in Mattru said the government of President Julius Maada Bio is very much concerned about the health of the people especially Women and children.
He said Bonthe district has been largely deprived of quality healthcare system over the years and it is timely that swift actions have been taken to tackle some of the challenges moreso in the health sector.
Sierra Leoneans continue to be grateful to President Julius Maada Bio’s administration for the massive transformations that are going on in the healthcare sector especially for women and children.
For many decades, our country’s healthcare sector has been challenged with an outdated infrastructure. The worst phase was during the decade long civil war when all facilities throughout the country were completely vandalised. The SLPP government of late President Tejan Kabba did a lot to ameliorate what was a very dire situation.
The dreaded Ebola outbreak in 2014 also added to the problems
Ambulance services were not operational and so it was difficult for pregnant women, lactating mothers and their children to get access to medical facilities more especially so in remote communities. The country was one of the worst places for child birth
PHUs were not working well as they lacked the required health personnel thus giving the right to traditional birth attendance practitioners to takeover child birth in rural communities.
The Demographic and Health Survey recorded serious maternal and Child mortality rates in the country.
The report states that maternal and child mortality rate was at 1,165 for every hundred thousand child births. Extremely high even by third world standards.
According to data the worst numbers for maternal and child mortality rate in Sierra Leone were coming from the eastern region but Bonthe district is also grievely affected.
Dr Sandi said from 2018 to date, government through the ministry of health and sanitation has rehabilitated five PHUs in Mattru, Tihun, Mogbwemo, Moriba Town and Gbangbama in Jong,Imperi, and Sogboni chiefdoms respectively.
He further noted that five labour wards have also been Rehabilitated in Bum,Kpanga, Kemoh, Jong and Imperi chiefdoms and that 243 community health workers have been trained to managed these facilities.
“There is an ongoing construction of a new health centre at Torma, all of these can not work out well without the necessary manpower and so we have given 160 pin-codes to health workers in Bonthe district.
We have also been given the authority to resruit more 3, 000 including support staff” he said adding that government has granted three type of allowances to healthcare workers which includes biohazard, on call and location allowances.
” The supply of free health care drugs is on track, normally the free health care drugs were only for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five, but the service has been extended to the disabled and Ebola survivors. We have provided uniforms for our health workers and more importantly, there is now a health care insurance, any medical practitioner who died as a result of any hazard his or her next if kin can be fully paid.
Also three children of the person can be can be supported from primary to university,” he concluded.
,The maternal and Child mortality rates will be under 500 for every 100.000 life birth and that figure is set to reduce even further.
Under the hardworking and patriotic leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, significant investments continue to be made in our once dilapidated national health sector.
Pee Cee & Sons Steals Electricity
…ACC to investigate Indians business men
Who could have ever dreamt that the Pee Cee and Sons, a lucrative retailing business would engage in electricity theft? This trading company is headed by Indian business men including Rajesh.
A string of investigations carried by the parliamentary oversight committee on energy has unearthed the nefarious activities of the company.
The oversight committee on energy, chaired by Hon. Keikura k. Vandy, Kanja Sesay, and a host of officials from EGTC and EDSA, that one of the Indian business tycoon in Sierra Leone, namely Pee Cee and Sons, has been caught in electricity burglary in Kenema District.
According to Hon. Keikura k. Vandy, Pee Cee and sons were caught on illegal connection, defrauding the much required government revenue. He added that after they were caught red-handed, they were fined fifty million leones LE50,000,000 which they never paid.
Hon. Keikura Vandy made this revelation when presenting their Oversight report to the speaker of parliament Hon. Chernor Abass Bundu, and Officials from the Ministry of Energy regarding the activities of the ministry’s facilities and services across the country recently.
Hon. Vandy pointed out that the ministry, especially EDSA, should pay key attention to business organizations which are using huge electricity but do not ever meet their responsibility to the Energy Ministry.
He said there are many illegal connections across the country, through which the Government loses Billions of Leones monthly.
Hon. Vandy ordered the Ministry of Energy and EDSA to ensure that Pee Cee and Sons pay the Le50,000,000 fine or face the full force of the law.
In their investigations, Hon. K. Vandy has also informed that, during their Oversight activities in Kono District, they established out that majority of the night clubs in Kono are illegally connected with electricity, thereby cheating government of much needed revenue.
He also pointed out that, as a committee, they need the Ministry of energy to investigate the Capital Hotel in Kenema, because they were very sure of Capitol Hotel is also engaged in illegal connection.
The Hon. MP urged the ministry of energy to institute periodic visits to various parts of the country, especially big business that are bent on defrauding Sierra Leone, to ensure that these challenges are mitigated, and electricity thieves put under check.
As a committee, he assured of their unwavering support to the institution through partnerships to ensure proper mechanism are put in place to monitor electricity consumers nationwide.
This medium has also receives numerous complaints from the company workers for their fraudulent activates especially the refusal by Pee Cee and Sons to pay NASSIT, End of Year Benefit and a host of unusual activities and this medium will soon unearth their activities in our subsequent editions.
FAO Review Reveals Evidence of Previously Unconfirmed Endemic Diseases
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had conducted a review that concludes that FAO support had strengthened the capacity of the Government of Sierra Leone, particularly its central veterinary laboratory (CVL), which is now equipped to test for transboundary animal diseases and priority zoonoses such as peste des petits ruminants, brucellosis, avian influenza, rabies and African swine fever, among others.
The review included the Integrated Animal Disease Surveillance and Reporting System (IADSR) and was conducted on 27 and 28 July 2020.
Speaking about the positive conclusions of this review, the Assistant Director-General of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sorie Kamara, said that “FAO and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have greatly improved the capacity of the livestock and veterinary sector, which has made it possible to detect previously unknown diseases in animals. In addition to this robust system, animal diseases will be easily controlled at source, limiting their socio-economic and public health impact”.
Other results of the review also showed that FAO’s efforts to actively involve the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, as well as other national stakeholders, have contributed to the sustainability of the measures and strengthened the activities of One Health in Sierra Leone, that is,the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.
In 2018, the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) established an IADSR within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Global Health Security Programme (GHSA). Under this support, FAO also created an epidemiology unit that was renovated and equipped; in addition, FAO renovated and equipped the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Makeni. Motorbikes were provided to all district livestock officers and CVL officials to improve mobility, respond to outbreaks and collect samples for diagnosis.
The review also showed that FAO support also enhanced the technical capacity of livestock and veterinary staff through various in-service trainings on data analysis, laboratory sample management, field biosecurity and biosecurity, outbreak investigation, geographic information system (GIS), mobile event application (MEA-i) and risk analysis, among others.
Such achievements reinforce the positive outcome of FAO ECTAD’s intervention in the country, which was welcomed by H.E. Dr. Julius Maada Bio during the state opening of the third session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone. He stated that the renovation of the central veterinary laboratory is “promoting animal production that will improve nutrition and provide higher income to livestock farmers”.
ACC Exposes EDSA
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to update the general public of the actions and steps it has taken to address critical issues raised in the Auditor General’s Audit Reports of Sierra Leone. These interventions focused on aspects of possible, or alleged corruption, and conduct inconsistent with provision(s) in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
After a thorough review, and analysis of the aforementioned Report, a total of twenty-one (21) issues attracted the attention of the Commission; with a view to investigating, prosecuting, or recovering public funds, public revenue, public property, as the case maybe, in accordance with Sections 7, and 48 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 respectively.
Below are some of the issues, and areas of ACC interventions, and the outcomes of same:
As of today’s date, the ACC has charged two (2) matters to Court. Furthermore, there are thirteen (13) ongoing active investigations. Two (2) matters have been accordingly closed for lack of evidence. The Commission has recovered a total sum of Two Billion, Seven Hundred And Forty-Two Million, One Hundred And Eighty-Five Thousand, Three Hundred and Four Leones, Sixty-One Cents (Le: 2, 742, 185, 304, 61).
1. Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) — The Audit Report alleged that EDSA made payments of more than One Billion, Four Hundred and Eighty Nine Million, One Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty One Leones and Fifty Cents (Le: 1,489,116,531.50), to the Ministry of Energy and Power (MEP), without justification, or supporting documents.
ACC investigations established that the sum of *One Billion, Seven Hundred And Fifty Seven Million Three Hundred And Sixty Four Thousand Two Hundred And Twenty Four Leones (Le: 1,757,364,224.00) was transferred by both EDSA, and Electricity Generation and Transmission Authority (EGTC), to the Ministry of Energy and Power (MEP), to settle the liabilities of the then National Power Authority (NPA), following the unbundling process. MEP submitted verifiable supporting documents. The matter was accordingly closed.
Nonetheless, ACC investigations unveiled that the sum of Sixty-Two Million (Le: 62, 000, 000) was dangling in the Ministry’s Account, claimed by no one. Accordingly, the ACC wrote to the Permanent Secretary of the said Ministry directing the transfer of same. The Ministry has implemented the recommendation of the Commission, withdrawn the money from the Account, and shared between EDSA and EGTC as per ACC recommendation.
2. EDSA- The Audit Report showed that EDSA made payments of Twenty Nine Billion, Nine Hundred and Two Million, Four Hundred and Fifty Nine Thousand, Six Hundred Thirty Five Leones (Le: 29,902,459,635.00) to certain institutions without contractual agreement. Accordingly, ACC investigations established that the National Petroleum (NP) was overpaid in the sum of Four Billion, One Hundred and Two Million Leones (Le: 4,102,000,000) as the quantity supplied was less than what was paid. Since the Finance Departments of EDSA, and NP failed to take the necessary actions, the ACC has directed NP to pay back to the State the aforementioned amount into the EDSA Account. EDSA and NP are working on getting the recoveries done.
3. University of Sierra Leone (USL)– The Audit Report alleged that USL disbursed several loans and payments ranging from One Hundred Million (Le: 100.000.000), to Seven Billion (Le:7bn) Leones, to the various constituent Colleges without supporting documents. The ACC has obtained the required financial and other supporting documents. The said documents have been analyzed, and found to be consistent with the statements made by the officials of the University. There was therefore no loss.
4. National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT)* — The Technical Audit Report captured issues relating to alleged poor debt management, invalid pensioners, among others. ACC investigations established that the respective beneficiaries mentioned in the Technical Audit are genuine contributors, and beneficiaries to the NASSIT Scheme. They are therefore not ghost beneficiaries contrary to what was alleged.
5. Emergency Operation Centre (OEC) and National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) – The Audit Report captured alleged Mismanagement of Ebola Funds. On this issue, the blanket “No Objection”issued by National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) to both EOC and NERC, following the issuance of an Executive Clearance by State House undermined the procurement processes by apparently creating potential room for officials, and suppliers, to collude and steal from the provisions of goods, and services during the WAR against Ebola. However, the availability of the blanket “No Objection” from the NPPA to the NERC which made them not to be subject to established procurement rules and processes; and poor records keeping made it difficult to apportion responsibility.
The Commission shall continue to promptly update the public through media releases on interventions made in regard the Auditor General’s Audit Reports of Sierra Leone. Release No. 2 on Audit Reports will be out next week and subsequent weeks.
Meanwhile, the ACC wishes to reassure the general public of its resolve to protecting public property and revenue across the country at all times.
VP Juldeh joins ECOWAS to Discuss Mali’s Crisis
Sierra Leone’s Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Friday 28 August 2020 joined ECOWAS Heads of State and Government for an Extraordinary Summit on the socio-political situation in the Republic of Mali, following the overthrow on 18 August of the democratically elected President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have congratulated the work of the mediation team led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and called for a short and guided transition process that would be specifically geared toward transferring power to an elected legitimate authority.
They also agreed that the lifting of sanctions, imposed by the regional body, would be tied to progress made by the new transition government. They emphasised that their actions, so far, were clear proof that they would always stand very firm against the unconstitutional change of power.
In his concluding statement, Dr. Juldeh Jalloh reiterated Sierra Leone’s commitment to supporting decisions of ECOWAS and to helping the people of Mali move out of the fragility the country found itself.
The Vice President, who was sitting in for President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, had closely followed events in the landlocked West African nation and the region, and his knowledge of the deep-seated crisis in that country was considered added value to the union’s on-going negotiations efforts.
Dr Jalloh had served as senior adviser for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and as Sahel adviser to the special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for West Africa and the Sahel.
To Eliminate Delay In payment Benefits…
NASSIT DG Educates 15 Infantry Brigade on Scheme Management
The military being a core component of the National Social Security and Insurance Trust Scheme, NASSIT in collaboration with the military leadership has schooled military personnel of the 15 infantry Brigade on the management of the scheme.
The summit held between the two institutions leaderships on Friday 28 August, at the Battalion Barracks at Lungi which seeks to eliminate bottlenecks causing delays in payment of NASSIT benefits to some soldiers was attended by NASSIT Director General Mohamed Fuaad Daboh and the Chief of Defence Staff, Sullay Ibrahim Sesay.
The engagement comes after senior management of the military led by the Minister of Defence paid a visit to NASSIT in June this year following reports in which payment of NASSIT benefits kept coming up in all deliberations of the various units.
According to NASSIT, after examining the military’s report, it was revealed that issues causing delay of benefits to some personnel were man-made problems due to mis-match of information in their records at the Military and the Trust.
Some of the problems includes but not limited to disparity in date of birth with most of them bearing two different dates of birth, change of beneficiaries, among several others.
At the end of the day, these personnel encounter problems accessing their benefits after retirement or other benefits due them from the Trust simply because they failed to update their information with the Trust.
NASSIT in a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting clearly explained some of the problems causing unexpected delays in their payments as well as the different categories of benefits and due procedures to ensure speedy payment.
With this, the NASSIT Director General thanked the military leadership including the Chief of Defence Staff for their cooperation throughout the engagement, which he said was successful, while expressing optimism that these issues underlined will become a thing of the past.
The Chief of Defence Staff ,Sullay Sesay said, the meeting will serve as an opportunity for personnel to express their challenges to the Trust since they now know that the problems are man- made.
Hence, implored all personnel to update their information whenever there is a change in their previous information at the Trust because they would not want to see a situation where personnel encounter problems in accessing various benefits within the Trust due to their own negligence.
He however expressed gratitude to the industrious DG for being so proactive and sensitive to their calls by making frantic effort to address their decade long concerns.
Russia-Sierra Leone Working Group on Cooperation Holds Maiden Meeting
BY Festus J Lahai
Ministry of Energy, Freetown, Thursday 27th August 2020*- The Russia-Sierra Leone Working Group on Cooperation in the field of Energy on Thursday 27th August, 2020 held its maiden meeting via video link.
Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, Mr. Sorokin Pavel Yurievich, headed the Russian Team whilst the Sierra Leonean Team was led by the Minister of Energy Alhaji Kanja Sesay.
Both countries noted that the Working Group was a fruit borne out of the agreement between the Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation HE A.V. Novak and the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone HE Julius Maada Bio reached on the sidelines of the Russian-Africa summit in Sochi on October 23rd 2019.
During that meeting, the countries discussed the current state of their cooperation in the field of energy and the possibilities of it deepening in the sphere of fuel and energy. The Sides exchanged the views on the promising projects that were discussed during the meeting of the Working Group.
In the field of Oil and Gas, Sierra Leone and Russia welcomed the development of the state programme for the extension of the Mineral Resource base of solid minerals by Rosgeo JSC for the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The officials during the meeting further vowed to support the cooperation between Rosgeo JSC and the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources of the Republic of Sierra Leone in the field of offshore exploration and transition zones (shallow waters) surveying including the multiclient principles-based surveying.
In the field of Power Generation, the Sierra Leone side agreed to pass on to the Russians till the end of 2020, the information regarding the field of power generation and supply, including the technological exchanges in the spheres of thermal power stations, water resources, solar energy, solar photo elements and wind power stations for further consideration of possible cooperation by interested Russian companies.
The Russian Side noted the interest of INTER RAO – Export LLC in developing cooperation with Sierra Leonean partners in the sphere of building and modernization of power stations and in the supplies of the Russian power-generating machinery for the power generation facilities in Sierra Leone.
The Russian Side supports the interest of power machines JSC in acting as a manufacturer and supplier of main and auxiliary machinery for both hydroelectric power plants (turbines with automatic control systems, generators with excitation systems, pre-turbine gates, a complex of Electromechanical and hydro-mechanical equipment) and for thermal power plants (steam turbines; turbo generators, equipment) and for thermal power plants (steam turbines, turbo generators, equipment “boiler island”; heaters, steam boilers, waste boilers).
Both countries decided that the next meeting of the Working Group will be held in 2021. The location and date of the meeting will be determined via diplomatic channels at a later time.
Bonthe Stakeholders Present Key Development Priorities
The people of Bonthe District have presented three (3) key district priorities to the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Planning’s nation-wide popularization and decentralization of the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP 2019-2023) at the Bonthe District Council Hall in Mattru Jong.
The key priorities which include, order of priority: Roads, Agriculture and Energy came as a result of a technical session conducted on decentralising ownership of the plan for effective implementation and results of the “New Direction” development targets across the country.
Presenting the district priorities, the Paramount Chiefs of Bonthe District said the people of District had made their views clear on their development priorities and wanted the government to take serious consideration in prioritising projects within the highlighted sectors. The P.C’s noted that the Bonthe people would continue to support through effective monitoring and coordinating implementation of the the plan in Bonthe District.
His Worship, the Deputy Mayor, Mohamed Robinson stated the importance of the engagement to Bonthe District; noting that the engagement demonstrates government’s commitment in ‘leaving no-one behind’ in the development process of their localities. He thanked the Ministry for coordinating the process and ensured their support and participation in implementing the plan in the district.
On his part, the Bonthe District Council Chairman, Moses Jude Probyn, underscored the importance of the engagement to the District. He said such process demonstrated government’s commitment to leaving no one behind in the actualisation of the New Direction Agenda.
Delivering an overview of the process, the Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Robert Chakanda said the journey to prepare the plan started over a year ago with wide consultations across the 16 districts nationwide. He said the plan drew a lot of direction from the New Direction Agenda of President Bio’s Government, which was people-centered.
The Chairman of the Development Committee in Parliament, Hon. Musa Fofanah called for a greater participation of the process, which he said was a step in the right direction. Hon. Fofanah said the Bonthe people should take complete ownership of the development aspirations in the district; emphasizing the need for continuity in governance and pledging Parliament’s support to the MTNDP (2019-2023).
In his statement, the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rado Swaray appreciated the District for their commitment to supporting the government. He said the government was working hard towards ensuring that effective communication mechanisms are restored all over the country, especially the 30 Million dollars loan for the 2nd phase of the fiber-optic connection, which Bonthe would also benefit from this time.
The Minister of Water Resources, Philip K. Lansana, noted that government was committed to ensuring that all cities and major towns get water facilities and that 7 district headquarter towns have already been identified for a start to benefit from the project. Mr. Lansana said due to the neglect the District had seen for years, priority has been given to them for the construction of water facilities through out the district. He said contractors were already in the Bonthe City to restore water in Bonthe.
The Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr. Eldred Taylor, in his statement said among other commitments President Bio was fully committed to ensuring that all district headquarter towns are electrified. He said Bonthe District would be among the only districts to have two separate distribution backbone of the rural electrification project. Dr. Taylor noted that other settlements, including the home of President Bio, Tihun, would benefit from the proposed rural electrification project, currently under procurement processes.
Tamba Lamina, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development said the local councils and district authorities were critical in the implementation of the (MTNDP 2019-2023) in Bonthe; noting that it would strengthen governance in the district, which would be crucial to enhancing development in Bonthe. He called on the paramount chiefs and the Bonthe District Council and Bonthe Municipality to be at the centre of service delivery in the District.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai expressed his gratitude to participants present for the engagement; noting that it demonstrated the governments commitment to ‘leaving no-one behind’. He said the plan would further empower the people in taking charge of development in the district.
Minister Kai-Kai said the plan reflected President Bio’s New Direction Agenda making sure Development was driven down to the districts. He said the District Development Coordination Committees (DDCC) would be set up to address development issues in the district and effective monitoring and evaluation processes would be followed in the implementation of several development projects across the country.
The Minister encouraged district stakeholders, especially the Paramount Chiefs of Bonthe District, to continuously monitor and coordinate implementation of the plan in the district.
Other dignitaries in attendance included: The Development Secretary MoPED, Peter Sam-Kpakra, The Resident Minister, South, Mohamed Alie, The Director, National Authorizing Office, Mr. Ambrose James, Members of Bonthe District Parliamentary Caucus, Provincial Secretary, Women’s Leaders, CSO Representatives, Development, Youth Reps. Partners and other District Officers and Representatives.
IGP Consolidates Relations with the SLRSA
In strengthening collaboration between the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, Mr. Ambrose Sovula, and team has on Tuesday August 25, paid a courtesy visit to the Executive Director of the SLRSA at his Kissy Road Office in Freetown.
The Inspector General of Police and his Deputy Madam Elizabeth Turay and other senior Police Officers said, his visit was to reaffirm his support to the SLRSA as he put it, “I have been part of the SLRSA family for a very long time.” The IGP called for synergy between the Sierra Leone Police and the SLRSA in order to restore sanity in the Road Transport Sector.
IGP Sovula noted that, the Sierra Leone Police is overwhelmed with crimes around traffic issues and hence the need for collaboration between the SLP and the Road Safety Corps. He noted that, the Motor Vehicle industry has it membership drawn from all facets of life and as such, policing their everyday activities was a herculean task. He called on the Executive Director to closely work with the Drivers Union and the Bike Riders Union as this will create the enabling environment for both the membership of the drivers and riders and the Road Safety Corps.
The IGP assured the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) in the areas of training, joint operations and other related issues. He called for frequent meetings with Stakeholders in the Transport sector to discuss issues affecting the sector and find solutions.
Welcoming the IGP and his team, the Executive Director of the SLRSA Mr. Ibrahim Sannoh was pleased to receive the IGP to the SLRSA headquaters and emphasised the need for collaboration between the SLRSA and the SLP.
Mr. Ibrahim Sannoh outlined some of the major reforms he had introduced in the Authority since he took over as Executive Director three months ago, including the E-Fitness, Biometric License, Vehicle Record Card and Vehicle Number Plates. The Executive Director disclosed that he had discussed an inservice training proposal with the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Memuna for Road Safety Corps.
In her remarks, the Deputy Inspector General of Police Madam Elizabeth Turay thanked the Executive Director and the SLRSA management for the warm reception accorded them and pointed out the need for a good working relationship among front line officers of the two institutions.
The Deputy Executive Director of the SLRSA Mr. James Baggie Bio embraced the path of the Inspector General of Police in expressing his desire to deepened collaboration between the SLP and the SLRSA. He disclosed that, this initiative was the desire of His Excellency the President Retired Bregadier Dr. Julius Maada Bio for all MDAs to work together in advancement of the New Direction Agenda.
The vote of thanks was moved by the Director of Safety and Enforcement Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority Mr. Augustine Kaitongi.
U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 – Sierra Leone
The National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), which was formed in 1992 after a military coup led by Captain Valentine E.M. Strasser and a small cadre of soldiers from the Sierra Leone-Liberia war front, continued to rule Sierra Leone. The coup ended the government of President Joseph Momoh and his All Peoples’ Congress (APC) party, which had held power since 1978. Captain Strasser is Chairman of the NPRC and Head of State. The Deputy Chairman of the NPRC, Julius Maada Bio, is Chairman of the Supreme Council of State (SCS), which includes NPRC members and other military officers, plus one civilian. The NPRC and the SCS formulate government policy; day-to-day government operations are overseen by the department secretaries, who comprise the Cabinet.
Following the coup, the NPRC dissolved Parliament and political parties and, ruling by decree, controlled all aspects of government. The 1991 Constitution technically remains in force under the NPRC, but its status has been diminished by a series of decrees and public notices. On November 26, Captain Strasser announced several important policy moves: a unilateral cease-fire in the fighting with the rebel forces, known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF); an amnesty for surrendering rebels and RUF sympathizers; and a timetable for a transition to democracy, culminating in general elections in late 1995. In December the NPRC released a “Working Document on the Constitution” to serve as the basis for public debate leading to a referendum on a new constitution in May 1995.
The Sierra Leone military forces (RSLMF), supported by Special Army and Police Units (SAPPS) and the regular police force, are responsible for both external and internal security. The RSLMF continued active operations against the RUF forces, which are supported by the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). The 1992 coup was in part motivated by dissatisfaction among frontline troops (including Strasser), and the NPRC set as its primary objective bringing the war to an end. Significant progress was made toward achieving that goal in 1993, with the recapture of large areas that had been subject to rebel control.
There continued to be reports of human rights abuses on all sides in the internal conflict, including summary executions and torture, as well as abuses by the police and military against criminal suspects outside the war zone.
More than 70 percent of the 4.3 million population is involved in some aspect of agriculture, mainly subsistence farming. Although the country is rich in minerals, including titanium-bearing rutile, gold, and diamonds, official receipts from legal exports of gold and diamonds have decreased over recent years; significant portions of these resources leave the country outside legal, authorized channels. The major diamond-producing area was under rebel control from late 1992 until late 1993, which further disrupted diamond earnings. Despite the difficult security situation, the Government adhered to an International Monetary Fund structural adjustment program which has produced major improvements in the stability of exchange rates and reduced inflation.
There were many human rights abuses, notably, but not only, in the areas of fighting along the Liberian border, where the RSLMF and rebel units committed extrajudicial killings and torture. In August RUF rebels ambushed an aid convoy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), killing two of the relief workers and wounding a third before burning the vehicles. Additionally, both the police and army summarily executed criminal suspects and beat and otherwise abused suspects during arrest and interrogation.
The NPRC continued to maintain firm control over government and society with tight restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association. Discrimination and violence against women remained widespread.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were numerous reports of extrajudicial killings and summary executions by military and the SAPPS, often in connection with criminal arrests. Many reports suggest that undisciplined military personnel inflicted civilian deaths while engaging in looting, robbery, and extortion (see Section 1.g.).
There were continuing reports of the disappearance of suspected NPFL rebels, captured in the conflict. The NPRC denied these reports and took the offensive by announcing an amnesty program for civilians and rebels returning from disputed territories.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Although the 1991 Constitution prohibits torture, there were reports of police and military mistreatment of detainees during interrogation and arrest. The practice of mutilating prisoners continued. In one well-publicized case, security forces cut off the ears of two criminal suspects. Military personnel sometimes physically abused civilians (see Section 1.g.). In December the press reported an incident in which soldiers beat and kicked a child in order to ascertain where the child had obtained the military boots he was wearing. Officials responsible for such abuses were sometimes punished.
Prison conditions remained life threatening; deaths in prison due to malnutrition and inadequate medical attention are common. Detainee cells often lack beds or toilet facilities. Overcrowding is the norm at Freetown’s Pademba Road prison. These prison conditions are of particular concern because shortcomings in the legal system often result in prolonged detention. Men and women are segregated in the prisons, but separate facilities for incarceration of juveniles do not exist. Homosexual rape is not uncommon.
Throughout the year, the Government granted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to prisoners, including some alleged rebel prisoners. Amnesty International (AI) requested access to prisoners one time, and access was granted. In May AI reported that some prisoners were being held in secret and that boys as young as 7 years of age were being incarcerated. The Government denied these charges.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
There are inadequate safeguards against arbitrary or unjust detentions and no provisions for their formal review in either criminal or political security cases. The laws provide that, after an initial 24-hour detention, detainees must have access to legal counsel, families, and medical care, but authorities rarely respect these provisions unless detainees can afford legal counsel to demand compliance.
In political and security cases, police and security agencies have additional detention authority. Under NPRC decrees, any police officer or member of the armed forces, with approval of the SCS or NPRC, may arrest without warrant and detain indefinitely any person suspected of posing a threat to public safety. In practice, soldiers commonly arrest or detain civilians without charge. Relatives are not formally notified, but the authorities generally respond to inquiries. Arrested foreigners are often released but may not depart the country.
The Government provides legal representation for the indigent only in cases of capital offenses. Lack of counsel in other cases frequently leads to abuse. Many indigent detainees are ignorant of their rights and assume, sometimes correctly, that law enforcement or judicial authorities will be paid by the accuser to rule against them. The Society for the Protection of Human Rights provides free legal counsel to some indigent detainees.
During the year, the NPRC reviewed the cases of individual prisoners, resulting in the release of over 300 prisoners.
The first anniversary of the April 1992 coup saw the release to house arrest of the more than 20 members of the former government who had been detained at the time of the coup. In December the Government announced that all suspected rebels had been released from detention, and one political detainee was released under the year-end amnesty.
No one was exiled by the Government, but some persons chose to leave or, as in the case of some officials of the previous regime, remain outside the country rather than face possible retribution.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The NPRC has not fundamentally altered the previously existing judiciary, but it has circumvented some of the authority of judicial institutions by the use of special commissions of inquiry.
There are three judicial systems: regular courts, local or traditional courts, and courts-martial which try only military cases. The judiciary is subject to political manipulation. There is strong evidence that favoritism plays a role in court decisions.
The regular court system is based on the British model and consists of a Supreme Court, an intermediate Court of Appeals, a High Court of Magistrates, and magistrates’ courts. There are criminal and civil courts. Decisions by lower courts may be appealed. The courts frequently grant attorneys’ requests for adjournment or postponement; there are delays of up to 5 years in bringing cases to trial.
Indigenous elected ethnic leaders preside over local courts and administer tribal law in civil cases, e.g., dealing with family and property matters. These local courts are often the only legal institutions in rural areas.
The court-martial system, based on British military codes and the common law, provides for commander adjudication of minor offenses. More serious offenses are deferred from field units to force headquarters. There are allegations that enlisted personnel subjected to punishment by field commanders have in some cases appealed to friends in the NPRC and had sentences overturned. During 1992, in an effort to curb military excesses, a standing court-martial was established to try military personnel for serious crimes (e.g., murder, manslaughter or aggravated robbery). Death sentences pronounced by this court must be reviewed and approved by the Head of State. None of the death sentences given by the standing court-martial in 1993 had been carried out by year’s end.
Under a December 1992 decree, the Government has the authority to create a Special Military Tribunal to try “any person, whether or not a member of the Armed Forces” who, in connection with or in furtherance of any act of rebellion against the NPRC, commits treason, murder, manslaughter, aggravated robbery or any other serious offense under Sierra Leonean law. In 1993 the decree was amended to permit appeal of the Tribunal’s decisions to the courts.
In a separate set of quasi-judicial proceedings, NPRC-appointed commissions of inquiry, investigating corruption under the previous Momoh regime, held public hearings during 1993. At year’s end, the commissions continued to submit findings to the NPRC. After reviewing the findings, the NPRC issues a “white paper” containing decisions on sanctions against officials of the previous regime found to have engaged in malfeasance. The NPRC has taken such actions as confiscating or ordering restitution of property and banning some persons from future public office.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
While the 1991 Constitution prohibits arbitrary invasion of the home, NPRC Decree 25 had given broad authority to military and police personnel to enter and search any premise without warrant. During April the NPRC published amendments to the Decree, curtailing that authority. However, officials still have wide authority under other NPRC decrees to monitor actions or conversation within homes, to prevent a person from acting in a manner prejudicial to public safety, to impose restrictions on employment or business, to control association or communication with other persons, and to interfere with correspondence.
In practice, there were numerous occasions of abusive treatment of ordinary citizens by ill-disciplined soldiers and police, both within and outside of the war zone. These abuses included forced entry into homes, robberies, and assaults, some of them fatal. Offending soldiers have frequently been punished when caught; several remained under death sentences for the most serious crimes (see Section 1.e.).
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
There were serious violations of human rights in the conflict centered in the eastern and southern provinces along the Liberian border. There, RSLMF forces fought the Revolutionary United Front forces, which are supported in part by Charles Taylor’s NPFL forces from Liberia. The RSLMF was also involved in fighting bandits and groups of military deserters. This conflict involves different ethnic groups and has resulted in an unknown number of deaths. Some estimates indicated that more than 8,000 civilians have been killed since 1991 and that hundreds of thousands of people within Sierra Leone and adjacent countries have been displaced.
Government forces took severe action against suspected rebels and their supporters. There were credible reports of summary executions of prisoners by RSLMF troops. Troops also engaged in public humiliation and torture of captives, including by disfigurement, beatings, and parading captives naked. Some RSLMF troops displayed human skulls on military vehicles.
Many reports indicated that RUF rebels took similarly severe action against civilians and RSLMF soldiers. In August the RUF attacked an ICRC aid convoy, killing two ICRC workers and wounding a third. Also, there were reports that the RUF leaders in Kailahun District executed 16 of their own troops and 5 noncombatants for allegedly plotting to overthrow RUF leader Foday Sankoh. In December RUF forces reportedly killed about 20 civilians in two villages near Pujehun. They also pressed youths aged 12 to 15 into combat service.
At times, the RUF controlled parts of the eastern areas along the Liberian border, but by the end of the year government forces had regained the initiative, and RUF did not control any specific areas. In early December, the NPRC declared a 4-week cease-fire, but, due to numerous new RUF attacks on government forces during the month, the cease-fire was not extended when it expired.
The RUF does not appear to promote a coherent political philosophy. Most of its members are of the Mende and Kissy ethnic groups, but other members of those groups have not been immune from RUF aggression.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Although the Constitution provides unequivocally for freedom of speech, NPRC decrees permit the Government to abridge freedom of expression if it deems national security to be endangered. Criticizing government leaders or offending the dignity of the State are criminal offenses. In practice, freedoms of speech and press were severely circumscribed.
In May the NPRC repealed the section of its 1992 decree that had empowered the Government to prohibit attempts to influence public opinion in a manner likely to be prejudicial to public safety, public tranquility, or public order. However, a restrictive set of conditions for registration of newspapers instituted in February reduced the number of newspapers by more than 50 percent and silenced some of those most openly critical of the Government.
At the end of 1993, there were 10 active newspapers, 2 of which were controlled directly by the Government. The Government warned and castigated editors who published articles displeasing to the NPRC. It detained several editors for 1 to 3 days and suspended one newspaper for several weeks. The then-deputy Chairman of the NPRC kicked one journalist because of an offending article. In these circumstances, editors continued to exercise self-censorship.
In October the authorities arrested five employees of a Freetown newspaper and six others, who have played roles in Sierra Leone politics in the past, after the newspaper published an article from a Swedish newspaper alleging corruption in the NPRC Government. The newspaper’s office was ransacked. The Government released seven of the detainees a short time later, but four journalists remained in jail for more than 2 weeks. They were then released on bail equivalent to $200,000 each, an extremely high sum by Sierra Leone standards. The newspaper has not published since the incident.
One of the capital’s two radio stations is government controlled and reflects only the views of the Government. The other is operated by Christian missionaries and broadcasts religious programming and Voice of America news. A third radio station operates in one of the provincial cities. The Government owns and operates the only television station, which resumed broadcasting after a hiatus of several years.
Academic freedom does not appear to have been impaired by the NPRC. There were no reports of educators being detained or threatened for their teaching activities, and university students who staged protests over campus issues were not subjected to government retribution.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Although the 1991 Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and the right of citizens to form economic, social, and professional organizations, freedoms of assembly and association were not respected. All political parties remained banned.
Under antidisturbance decrees, the NPRC may grant broad powers of arrest to public, military, or other authorized persons in any area or situation in which, in its opinion, there is likely to be difficulty in preserving “public safety” and “order.” In practice, the NPRC permitted peaceful demonstrations.
c. Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion is provided for by the 1991 Constitution, and historically the ruling government has displayed religious tolerance. Muslims, the largest religious group (comprising about 60 percent of the population), Christians, animists, and adherents of other faiths practice their beliefs freely; they may publish and distribute religious materials and conduct religious education without government interference.
Although most clergy are indigenous, foreign Christian missionaries are active and there is a small number of Muslim clerics from other countries.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
There are currently no legal restrictions on travel within the country; however, for a substantial portion of 1993 three of the eastern districts were closed to civilian travel due to the rebel incursion. Military and paramilitary checkpoints also delayed travel, with soldiers frequently demanding money, transport, or goods. NPRC decrees permit senior police and military officers to stop and question any person.
The Government requires all citizens to carry a national identification card which must be presented on demand to security personnel at checkpoints. However, as the Government was unable to provide cards for everyone, the requirement was only selectively enforced.
Exit visas are required for anyone, except diplomats, seeking to travel outside the country. There are no restrictions on emigration or repatriation.
Continuing conflict in the primarily agricultural eastern and southern provinces at times internally displaced as many as 400,000 Sierra Leoneans during 1993, reducing food production and placing a severe strain on the local economy. In addition to the internally displaced, an estimated 300,000 Sierra Leonean refugees sought refuge in Guinea and Liberia. There was considerable movement among the internally displaced Sierra Leone populations and the Liberian refugees in response to the ebb and flow of the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Sierra Leone continued to be host to thousands of Liberian refugees, although the number declined from 14,000 at the end of 1992 to an estimated 10,000 at the end of 1993. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided relief aid to 6,000 refugees at the Waterloo refugee camp near Freetown. The Government did not force refugees to repatriate to countries in which they fear persecution.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Citizens do not have this right. Captain Strasser and a small group of military officers control all institutions of government, and the NPRC appoints all senior government officials. The NPRC appointed an advisory Commission for the Return to Democracy, and the Commission submitted the draft of a new constitution to the NPRC for review. In December a “Working Document on the Constitution” was released to serve as the basis for public debate leading to a referendum on a new constitution in May 1995. The NPRC timetable announced in December also calls for nonpartisan district council elections in November 1994; the formation of political parties in June 1995; and general elections late in 1995.
Meanwhile, the ban on political parties remained in effect, and the Government qualified implementation of these steps by stating that the border fighting must end before elections could be held.
Women are poorly represented in government. In December the NPRC appointed a woman as undersecretary in the Department of Education, the highest position held by a woman in the Government. A few senior civil service and judicial positions are held by women.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Local human rights groups are allowed to operate. The League for Human Rights and Democracy, a local organization, studies all human rights issues but concentrates on issues related to freedom of the press and conditions of prisoners. Its effectiveness is hampered by government intimidation and a lack of resources. In at least one instance in 1993, the League’s director was summoned by police for questioning regarding his activities.
The Government allows visits by international human rights organizations. The ICRC visited prisoners in Pademba Road prison and in various military barracks where suspected rebels are sometimes detained. Amnesty International had access to prisoners in 1993 (see Section 1.c.).
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
Although women have equal rights under the Constitution, in practice they face both legal and societal discrimination. The rights and status of women under traditional law vary significantly, depending upon the ethnic group. The Temne and Limba tribes, for example, accord more rights to a woman to inherit her husband’s property than do the Mende, who give preference to male heirs and unmarried daughters (in that order).
In the broader society, women do not have equal access to education, economic opportunities, health facilities, or social freedoms. In rural areas they perform much of the subsistence farming and all of the child-rearing and have little opportunity for education.
The average schooling level for women is markedly below that of males. A 1991 U.N. study showed that females receive one-fourth the schooling of males; only 6 percent of women are literate. At the university level, men predominate. There is at least one recently formed rights group which has as its purpose improving economic opportunities and access to health services for women.
Violence against women, especially wife beating, is common. The police are unlikely to intervene in domestic disputes except in cases of severe injury or death. Few cases of such violence go to court. The issue is not recognized as a societal problem and receives no high-level attention by the Government. Rape is a problem in Sierra Leone.
The Government recently signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and in 1993 began addressing, with the help of nongovernmental organizations, the integration of “boy soldiers” back into society. Many underage boys had been allowed to join military operations early in the war.
There are reported instances of ritual murders of boys and girls, as well as of adults, associated with animist religious groups in the provinces. These murders have been widely reported in the press and openly discussed in public. The Government arrests and prosecutes suspects in ritual murder cases.
Female genital mutilation (circumcision), which has been condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is not addressed in Sierra Leonean law and is widely practiced on girls at a young age, especially in traditional tribal groups and among the less educated. According to an independent expert in the field, the percentage of females who have undergone this procedure may be as high as 80 percent.
Discrimination between people of different tribal groups is not officially sanctioned, but tribal loyalties remain important factors in government, military, and business transactions. The Momoh government was accused of discriminating in favor of persons of Limba descent (Momoh’s ethnic group). The NPRC is heavily Mende in composition, and many high-level appointees are from that ethnic group. Complaints are common of corruption and ethnic discrimination in government appointments, contracts, military commissions, and promotions.
Residents of non-African descent face institutionalized political restrictions. Current law restricts citizenship to people of Negro-African descent following a patrilineal pattern, effectively denying citizenship to many persons, notably in the Lebanese community, the largest affected minority. Residents of non-African descent are often victims of harassment.
People with Disabilities
Questions of public facility access or discrimination against the disabled have not become public policy issues. There are no laws that mandate accessibility to buildings or provide for other assistance for the handicapped. There does not appear to be discrimination against the handicapped in housing or education, but, with the high rate of unemployment, few handicapped people are found working in offices or factories. The difficulty the handicapped face in finding employment places many facilities and services beyond their financial means.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Unions have continued their activities under the NPRC. The 1991 Constitution provides for the right of association, and all workers, including civil servants, have the right to join trade unions of their choice. Unions are independent of the Government. Individual labor unions have by custom joined the Sierra Leone Labor Congress (SLLC), and all unions are members of the SLLC. Membership is, however, voluntary. There is no legal prohibition against the SLLC leadership holding political office, and leaders have held both elected and appointed government positions.
Under the Trade Union Act, any five persons may form a trade union by applying to the Registrar of Trade Unions, who has statutory powers under the Act to approve the creation of trade unions. Applications may be rejected for several reasons, including an insufficient number of members, proposed representation in an industry already served by an existing union, or incomplete documentation. If the Registrar rejects an application, his decision may be appealed in the ordinary courts, but such action is seldom taken.
Approximately 60 percent of workers in urban areas, including government employees, are unionized, but unions have had little success in organizing workers in the large agricultural and mining sectors.
Unions have the right to call a strike without exception, but the Government may require 21 days’ notice. In September teachers staged a strike demanding salary increases. The NPRC did not interfere, but NPRC decrees, which prohibit disruption of public tranquility or of supplies, could be employed to prevent a prolonged strike. The Sierra Leone Labor Congress is reviewing the labor law and hopes to have legislation approved in 1994 that would prohibit firing of a union member for participation in a legal strike.
Unions are free to form federations and confederations and affiliate internationally. The SLLC is a member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and there are no restrictions on the international travel or contacts of trade unionists.
b. The Right To Organize and Bargain Collectively
The legal framework for collective bargaining is the Regulation of Wages and Industrial Relations Act. Collective bargaining must take place in trade group negotiating councils, each of which has an equal number of employer and worker representatives. Most enterprises are covered by collective bargaining agreements on wages and working conditions. The SLLC provides assistance to unions in preparing for negotiations. In case of a deadlock, the Government may intervene.
There is no law that prohibits retribution against strikers; however, if an employee is fired for union activities, he may file a complaint with a labor tribunal and seek reinstatement. Complaints of discrimination against unions are made to the Industrial Court for arbitration. Individual trade unions investigate alleged violations of work conditions and ensure that employers take the necessary steps to correct abuses.
There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Under the Chiefdom’s Council Act, compulsory labor may be imposed by individual chiefs, requiring members of their villages to contribute to the improvement of common areas. This practice exists only in rural areas. There is no penalty for noncompliance. The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Committee of Experts repeated its earlier request to the Government that it amend provisions of this act that violate ILO Convention 29 on forced labor.
Although the NPRC does not require compulsory labor, a decree requires that homeowners, businessmen, and vendors clean and maintain their premises. Failure to comply is punishable by fine or imprisonment. Determinations of such cleaning and maintenance may be made by any health officer, police officer, or member of the armed forces. The last Saturday of every month is declared a national cleaning day, and there were instances of security forces beating citizens to ensure compliance.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The minimum age for employment is officially 18 years, but in practice there is no enforcement because there is no Government entity specifically charged with this task. Children routinely assist in small family businesses, especially those of vendors and petty traders. In rural areas young children work seasonally on family subsistence farms.
Because the adult unemployment rate is high (60 percent in some areas), few children are involved in the industrial sector. There have been reports that young children have been hired by foreign employers to work as domestics overseas at extremely low wages and in appalling conditions. Following an investigation, the Government announced that the Department of Foreign Affairs would review overseas work applications to ensure that no one under 14 was being employed for this purpose and to enforce certain wage standards.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is no legislated minimum wage. Purchasing power continued to decline, and most workers have to pool incomes with their extended families and engage in subsistence food production in order to maintain a minimum standard of living. The Government’s suggested standard workweek is 38 hours, but this is not mandated and most workweeks exceed 38 hours.
The Government sets health and safety standards, but the standards are outmoded and often not enforced. The Health and Safety Division of the Department of Labor has inspection and enforcement responsibility, but inadequate funding and transportation limit its effectiveness. The SLLC is currently negotiating with the Government to update these standards.
Health and safety regulations are included in collective bargaining agreements, but there is no evidence of systematic enforcement of those safety standards. Trade unions provide the only protection for workers who file complaints about working conditions. Initially, the unions make a formal complaint about a hazardous work condition. If this is rejected, the unions may issue a 21-day strike notice. If workers remove themselves from dangerous work situations without making a formal complaint, they risk being fired.
SLFA NEWS FLASHBACK
It could be recalled that in January 2020, senior members of the UEFA Assist Program visited Sierra Leone for a five-day working visit during which several consultative meetings were held with the President, Executive Committee Members, the General Secretary and Heads of Department of the Sierra Leone Football Association. Other football development partners- Journalists, Sponsors, SL Premier League Board and Coaches were also independently engaged.
The said meetings were climaxed by the establishment of a collaboration between the two football bodies, which is mainly about helping SLFA in its development plans to ensure the rapid growth of Football in the country.
For more on this, please watch the video documentary attached below.
S/Leone Rotary Considerably Scores Achievement in Polio Eradication
Saidu Kanu, President of Rotary, WHO Representative witnessing
The Sierra Leone Rotary and other partners in health have jointly commemorated the reserved efforts on the eradication of the polio-free in Sierra Leone, the even was occurred on the 25th August, Wilkinson Road, Freetown.
President, Saidu Kanu Rotary Club of Freetown, in his speech, said, they were to attain such achievement through the relentless fundraising effort on their parts to ensure that polio comes to end life in the country.
He stated that every year, Rotary sets funding goals of millions of dollars and successfully exceeded them each year. In 2020, Rotary poises to raise $100 million to enhance the efforts, and in three years, Rotary ad the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced an increased combined pledge of up to $450 million with a 2-to-1 match from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation if Rotary reaches its funding target. The Rotary Clubs in Sierra Leone will continue to play its parts to contribute to the yearly fundraising goal.
He maintained that Rotarians in Sierra Leone will remain more active as they have joined all partners to raise awareness, aggressively advocate the cause to public and private institutions, ensuring they contribute to the Global Fundraising process. He also emphasized that they will popularize immunization and surveillance programmes that government and partners were committed to supporting.
The Rotary president stated that Sierra Leone became Polio Free in 2010 and has remained so through the scheduling of local and national immunization days, routine surveillance and engagement at community and institutional levels, through decades of commitment and hard work Rotary with partners over 2.5 billion children have received the oral polio vaccine and have been save the scourge of unnecessary childhood paralysis.
Evans Liyosi, Representative of World Health Organization (WHO) intimated that, many years ago, when every day more than one thousand (1000) cases of polio were recorded globally, the thought of reaching such stage in the fight against the disease was farfetched.