NCRA Top Executive Attends First In-Person ID4Africa Summit

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Top executive of the National Civil Registration Authority have attended ID4Africa’s first in-person meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, following the relaxation of Covid19 travel restrictions and public gathering.

MOHAMED MASSAQUOI Director General and Moses Vibbie, Senior ICT and Identity Manager together with representatives from Sierra Leone’s National Revenue Authority, Bank of Sierra Leone, and the Immigration Department arrived Marrakesh Monday for the June 15-16 summit which attracted about 600 organizations and 51 African countries, many of them senior level government officials.

ID4Africa has returned to in-person meeting following a hiatus which limited it annual meetings to virtual summits since Covid19 global travel restrictions were enforced after the outbreak of the pandemic. ID4Africa brings together leading biometric vendors, the international development and digital ID communities, and governments from across Africa and around the world.

“I’m highly impressed with the turnout of participants at this year’s AGM doubling the turn out of the 2019 session before COVID 19 broke out… This means that our collective resolve to fight pandemics is successful. African Governments must account for all its citizens and other residents hence Legal Identity for All in Africa”, MASSAQUOI said after the first day session.

The DG, who is also ID4AFRICA’s Ambassador for Sierra Leone said the Palais des Congrès at Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi occasion was an opportunity to showcase the gains Sierra Leone has made since President Bio’s 2019 UN General Assembly declaration to support CRVS and legal identity in Sierra Leone; a commitment that is highly appreciated within the Identity System in Africa.

MASSAQUOI was on a Panel of International Experts on June 16 to share ideas and experiences on how countries can attain 100% Legal Identity coverage by 2030. This is a great opportunity to have Sierra Leone featured on a high-end global event, MASSAQUOI remarked. The DG as usual used his Diplomatic finesse to forge alliances and networks towards mobilising resources for Sierra Leone’s CRVS and Legal Identity programmes.

 This is all made possible through the rapid transformation the NCRA has seen under the leadership of the Director General, with unending support from the Management and entire staff of the NCRA and Partners. “I am speechless, I must confess, after comparing and discussing the progress made so far by NCRA Sierra Leone, with other countries; Sierra Leone is far ahead”  Vibbie said after listening to reports from other countries.

 While other African countries struggle to attain between 50-60% registration coverage, Sierra Leone ranks among the few countries in Africa with the highest registration coverage with over 85% of the population registered and all assigned the NCRA’s MAGIC NUMBER called the NIN(National Identification Number). Recent parliamentary ratification has tied the access to several national services to the attainment of the NIN number provided only by the NCRA; thus, giving a boost to the country’s Digital Economy and National growth through precise data on population.

“On a personal note, I feel satisfied that we are making significant progress and gains over many other nations in Africa towards meeting SDG 16.9 by putting measures, systems, policies and laws in place that precisely record the existence and characteristics of our population leading to the permanent legal exit of residents in Sierra Leone. Other countries now wish to emulate our work. Thanks to President Bio!”, MASSAQUOI exclaimed.

D.G MASSAQUOI proudly announced at the forum, the unqualified support from President Julius Maada Bio and his Government, for all CRVS and ID Management Programmes; a support that puts Sierra Leone in the lead among other African countries working towards the integration of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics.

This year’s Augmented General Meeting focuses on the Theme “Identity in Context: The Digital Transformation Journey Begins”. The event discusses Accelerating Government Service Delivery With Digital Identity, Trust for Identity Products and Services, Technology to accelerate human impact, etc – all geared towards making countries meet the UN SDG 16.9 – Legal Identity for All by 2030. It will also help countries show their population and the world that Legal Identity is high on their National Priority List

Legal Link Condemns police action on Inhumane & degrading treatment of LAJ

In line with its mandate to advocate for human rights, democratic policing, accountability, respect for due process, rule of law and international best practices in Sierra Leone, Christian Lawyers Centre (LEGAL LINK) through it’s Executive Director, lawyer Rashid Dumbuya has articulated the organization’s position on the alleged torture, inhumane and degrading treatment of LAJ and his friends by the Sierra Leone Police at the THIS DAY program on AYV Tv/Media Empire.

The position statement of LEGAL LINK has been shared in 8 short video clips format for better understanding and comprehension of the issues.

Please, we kindly appeal to all and sundry to take time out to listen and watch all of the 8 short video clips to the end for a full and objective grasp of the issues raised.

In this position statement, LEGAL LINK joins the lawyers of LAJ in condemning the alleged torture of LAJ and his friends while in detention and calls on the Independent Police Complaints Board to launch an impartial investigations into  allegations of torture inhumane and degrading treatment of suspects by the police at a place called BENGHAZI, (OSD police headquarters).

The Executive Director warns that if the IPCB fails to launch an investigation, they will lodge a complaint to the ICC and the UN Human Rights Council asking them to investigate the alleged torture, inhumane and degrading treatment meted out on suspects at Benghazi. In another development Rashid Dumbuya the Chief Executive officer continued that:

 THE NEED FOR A UNITED BAR

My fellow Barristers, while it is ok to have political belongings, we must however endeavour to always stand on the right side of history. As lawyers, we should rise above the ordinary man in thoughts and analysis of issues particularly when they touch and concern the state, human rights, rule of law, accountability and democratic good governance.

We are an embodiment of the law and the voice of the voiceless. Our loyalty should be to our country and its people…not the political class.

When the police, state, opposition missed out on issues, we should be the first to call out on them.

LAJ was just a suspect and had neither been charged, prosecuted or found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

We know that the practice of shaving of hair, change of clothes with numbering are usually akin to convicts serving long sentences for heinous crimes. Not suspects that are in police custody.

Besides, why was this not the case other times when he was been arrested by the police and detained?

If indeed there was a Standard Operating Procedure as opined in the police press release then I am sure he would have been shaved not less than four times now?

But where is this holding centre by the way where all these inhumane and degrading treatment of suspects are happening if not the Police station or CID?

Fellow Barristers, my fear and concern is the future. Let’s decry the laying down of bad precedents that have the proclivity to come back and hunt our people in the future…pls.

Whether it is APC, or SLPP or NGC that is in power, it should be irrelevant. A lawyer is a self-employed profession. Hence, no need to be jittery about being in the good books of the powers that be.

Let’s don’t allow another TRC report indict us all as being complicit in the face of outright violations of the fundamental human rights of our people.

In case you don’t know, this has been my motivation for choosing to speak out always. Nothing more.

If the government does it right, I will be the first to sing praise them. If the opposition does it wrong, I will also boldly decry them.

The people of Sierra Leone need a United Bar. Enough of the schisms! Let’s stand up and be counted.

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