CHRDI CALLS ON THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE TO RATIFY THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL ON THE CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) AND THE PROTOCOL TO THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS ON THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN IN AFRICA.
Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) wants to remind the Government of Sierra Leone that gender inequality remains a significant challenge to socio-economic and political growth in Sierra Leone.
We would like the government of Sierra Leone to recognise that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for development, prosperity and peace in the country.
We are aware that gender discrimination in Sierra Leone has created wide gender gaps with very devastating socio-economic and health consequences. Women have been marginalized, unfairly compensated and deprived. Rape and sexual harassment are common and perpetrators escape justice.
Due to impunity and lack of gender equality, women and girls have their rights and dignity routinely violated.
Furthermore, CHRDI’s attention has been drawn to the situation of women who are deprived of access to land, productive, social and other resources, and lack of participation in social and political decisions, which obstruct their empowerment.
We are aware that over the past three decades, several treaties, both regional and international were negotiated and signed by the Government of Sierra Leone but the government has failed to ratify most of them.
We are also aware that the Government of Sierra Leone is a signatory to the Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) and its optional protocol, including the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (AU Women Protocol).
Although the provisions of the protocols are not automatically binding on the country, the international Conventions and optional protocols ratified by the state party have to be domesticated i.e. passed by parliament before they can become part of the laws of Sierra Leone.
Notwithstanding the fact that Section 40 of the 1991 Constitution confers authority on the President to execute treaties, agreements and conventions on behalf of the country, the afore mentioned have to be ratified by parliament and passed by not less than a two thirds majority.
The CEDAW’s optional protocol and the AU Women’s Protocol have not yet been passed into law by Parliament and therefore cannot be enforced by the Courts of Sierra Leone.
We in CHRDI are of the conviction that it is imperative for the Government of Sierra Leone to domesticate and implement all Human Rights treaties especially the CEDAW and the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (AU Women Protocol).
CHRDI believes that domestication of these two protocols and other related international instruments would ensure that women enjoy their human rights on the basis of equality with men, in accordance with Section 170- (2) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which says “The common law of Sierra Leone shall comprise the rules of law generally known as the common law, the rules of law generally known as the doctrines of equity, and the rules of customary law including those determined by the Superior Court of Judicature.”
CHRDI is using this medium to appeal to the Government of Sierra Leone and the Honourable members of the House of Parliament to pursue and oversee the ratification of the Gender Equality document.
In a time when no one country has attained gender equality, Sierra Leone could make a strong and precedential pledge to parity, as this action has the potential to be the country’s first significant step in recent years.
This will help Government of Sierra Leone to take the lead in combating gender inequality, whilst empowering women and promoting their rights in all constructs. Gender is merely a means of identification and not a definition or disadvantage.
Note: Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) is a Rights based social-policy advocacy Organisation.
We Draw attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights.
CHRDI is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.
Abdul M Fatoma Chief Executive CHRDI
© CHRDI-HUMAN RIGHTS BRIEF