The Universal Declaration of Human Rights reaches its 70th anniversary on Monday, a chance to highlight the many important breakthroughs brought about by the landmark UN document, and to remind the world that the human rights of millions are still being violated on a daily basis.
Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid.
High Commissioner hails continued relevance of Declaration
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement released on Wednesday that the document has gone from being an “aspirational treatise” to a set of standards that has “permeated virtually every area of international law.”
The Declaration has shown itself to be as relevant today, as it has always been, and is applicable to situations and scenarios that could not have been foreseen at its inception, such as the need to govern artificial intelligence and the digital world, and to counter the effects of climate change on people.
Ms. Bachelet said the she remains convinced that the human rights ideal, laid down in the Declaration, has been one of the most constructive advances of ideas in human history, as well as one of the most successful.
The human rights chief pointed out that women played a prominent role in drafting the document: Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the drafting committee, and women from Denmark, Pakistan, the Communist bloc and other countries around the world also made crucial contributions. Consequently, the document is, for its time, remarkably free from sexist language, almost always referring to “everyone,” “all” or “no one” throughout its 30 Articles.
Human rights violations perpetrated ‘on a daily basis’
Celebrating the resilience of the human rights system, and the contributions of the Declaration to advancing human progress, peace and development, a team of independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, in a statement published on Friday, echoed Ms. Bachelet’s comments, noting that the “protection provided by the international human rights system has increased including by addressing new and emerging human rights issues and demonstrating its capacity to evolve and respond to people’s needs and expectations.”
However, the experts detailed some of the many violations of international law and human dignity that are perpetrated on a daily basis in many countries: “Recent memory is replete with multiple examples of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Impunity reigns supreme in many countries undergoing conflicts or political upheavals, encouraged by narrow national objectives, geopolitics and political impasse at the United Nations Security Council.”
They also said that the upsurge of nationalism and xenophobia seen in countries of asylum, at a time of rising forced-migration, is “reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years.”
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day.
In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, the UN is urging people everywhere to “Stand Up for Human Rights”: www.standup4humanrights.org.
Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Juldeh Jalloh on the 30 th of November 2018 gave a keynote address at the launch of the Northern Region Women's Network (NRWN), at the Golden Tulip Essential Kimbima Hotel.
Speaking at the ceremony, VP Juldeh said he was very delighted to launch the Nothern region Women's network for their drive towards empowering women by providing them an equitable platform to improve their socio-economic status and contribute to national development, using Advocacy as one of their strategies.
He encouraged them to persevere and remain focused on achieving their goal rather than the contrary. Knowing the challenges women face during their strive to development.
He referenced the data of the 2015 housing and population Census published by statistics Sierra Leone laying emphasis on women and girls in the northern region with regards literacy,vulnerability and illiteracy which he described not satisfactory. He further mentioned the problem of vulnerability and illiteracy among women cuts across other districts as well.
Stating that he referenced the Northern region because of the occasion and his address to the Northern Region Women's network.
He therefore, reassured them about the relevance of the Free education project as one of the flagship programs on the Agenda of the Government of Sierra Leone, which has already been launched by his Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone RTD, Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio, followed by the School Feeding program and it's associated packages, launched in Kabala.
This is to show that Government is aware of the work that is needed to be done nationwide, in order to have a productive human Capital.
In this regard, he further encouraged other women in other districts to think in similar directions. Ending that change will be only effective if we all put hands on deck as Sierra Leoneans. "God bless our beloved Sierra Leone," he said.
He concluded by congratulating the NRWN for their relentless efforts to effect a positive and desirable change in the Northern Region.
In the pathway of Promoting Girls Empowerment amongst others... Ambassador Waris Dirie to visit Sierra Leone
On Thursday 6 December 2018, at the Caritas Freetown Sierra Leone Office at Saint Edward's Secondary School Campus, Kingtom in Freetown, it was made known through a Press Release about the visit of Ambassador Waris Dirie, Founder of the Desert Flower Foundation and a Campaigner against Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation. A visit that is expected to mark girls and women's empowerment.
Reading the Press Release, the Project Supervisor for the Desert Flower Foundation-Sierra Leone, Wuyatta Musu Genda, ardently mentioned that the internationally acclaimed ex-supermodel and Founder of the Desert Flower Foundation, Ambassador Waris Dirie of Somalia origin, is to visit Sierra Leone for the first time from the 14 December 2018 to the 3 January 2019, whereupon, she will be meeting with the First Lady of the Republic, Mrs. Fatima Bio, where anticipated discussions will center on the empowerment of the girl child, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Wuyatta went further to say that, Waris Dirie in her visit, will examine projects of the Desert Flower Foundation in the country and as well, trip to the No. 2 River, which is the identified site situated at the Freetown Peninsula Rural District Area, for the erection of a Multi Purpose building which will serve as office for the Desert Media Center, a safe Haven (shelter) for victims of SGBV and FGM, coupled with a school establishment, and whereby, she continued that, the groundwork is expected to be done whilst Waris is in the capital, Freetown.
"The shelter will serve as temporary refuge for victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)," she enlightened.
She went further to state that, the visit of Waris in the different project sites across the country would broaden her mindset to be knowledgeable on the needs, challenges, and successes scored by women and girls on a daily basis.
With her visit, Wuyatta went further to say that, Waris Dirie will engage Her Worship in the Municipality of Freetown, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, and other representatives of UN Women, UNFPA, Diplomatic Missions, and other Women Activists across the country.
Wuyatta Musu Genda went further to disclosed that, Waris' visit will also sum up with a Press Conference, whereupon, detailed presentation will be done on the subject matter of "Desert Flower Foundation" and the progress made so far.
The Project Supervisor for such acclaimed Foundation, continued to disclose that, since the commencement of the Desert Flower Foundation work in Sierra Leone in 2014, the Foundation has saved 1,000 girls in the country, thereby, giving them protection from FGM and educational opportunities, in a project described as, "Save a Little Desert Flower" Sponsorship Programme.
In outlining the 1,000 beneficiaries notably in the areas of education, health and other welfare support under the Desert Flower Foundation-Sierra Leone (DFFSL), Wuyatta enlightened on the specific communities of operation, whereby, she cited Allen Town (Freetown) with a total of 117 beneficiaries, Dwarzack (Freetown) with a total of 50 beneficiaries, Freetown (Central) with a total of 415 beneficiaries, Newton (Western Rural Area) with a total of 44 beneficiaries, Bo (South of Sierra Leone) with a total 255 beneficiaries, Bo Commit and Act (an organization in Bo) with a total of 32 beneficiaries, Lungi (North of Sierra Leone) with a total of 57 beneficiaries, Magburaka (North of Sierra Leone) with a total of 30 beneficiaries, also adding that, such figures have accumulated to a grand total of 1,000.
Additionally, she detailed that, the school categories for these beneficiaries, cut across Kindergarten, targeting ages 3 to 5 and summing up to 48 girls, for Primary ages 6 to 12 summing up to 525 girls, for Junior Secondary School ages 13 to 16 summing up to 288 girls, and lastly for Senior Secondary School ages 17 to 20 summing up to 139 girls.
"With a grand total of 1,000 girls," she maintained.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 4th December 2018 debated and unanimously approved the Twentieth Report of its Committee on Appointments and the Public Service by ratifying the nomination of Hon. J.B Mansaray and Ten other political appointees to serve in various high offices of State.
In his closing remarks, the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu congratulated the nominees, adding that he had no doubt that the nominees have what it takes to make a difference in their new capacities. He also encouraged them to use their expertise to transform those institutions, saying “we wish you well, and we know you are going to live up to the confidence reposed in you by His Excellency”.
The following presidential nominees were approved by Parliament:
i. Mr. Buffy Bailor-Chairman, Board of Directors, Rokel Commercial Bank Limited
ii. Ms. Yeama Sarah Thompson-Commissioner, Right to Access Information Commission
iii. Mr. Biah Yormah Idriss-Commissioner, Right to Access information Commission
iv. Hon. Jusufu Barry Mansaray-Member, National Telecommunication Commission
v. Mr. Joseph Abass Sannoh-Member, National Telecommunication Commission
vi. Mr. Paul Square-Member, National Telecommunication Commission
vii. Mr. Robert Kondema Kargbo-Member, National Telecommunication Commission
viii. Mr. Alphan Tejan Kella-Pharmaceutical-Specialist, National Medical Supplies Agency
ix. Mr. Alhassan Kamara-Civil Society-Representative, National Medical Supplies Agency
x. Mr. Robert Sheku Abdullai-Member, Board of Directors, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and
xi. Mr. Sahr Foa Matturi-Member, Board of Directors, National Minerals Agency
Contributing to the debate, Hon. Daniel B. Koroma commended President Bio for having good eyes to choose the best persons whom in his belief would aid him achieve his desired objectives. However, he raised concern that Sierra Leone has only five state-owned profit making enterprises, asking a rhetorical question “is government good at doing business?”. He encouraged other state-owned enterprises, especially Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB) to step up in making more profit. “If Sierra Leone Commercial Bank is making profit, why not RCB,” he asked. He further raised concerns that the cost of communication in Liberia is 500% less than the one in Sierra Leone, whilst calling on the new Commissioners to NATCOM to work very hard in making sure that the consumers benefit more from every GSM operator in the country. He also recognized Hon. J.B. Mansaray as a mentor in the Fourth Parliament, calling on him as a Commissioner to NATCOM to ensure that top-up cards are sold at the same price as in Liberia because Sierra Leone has a bigger market.
On the other hand, Hon. Francis Kai-Samba encouraged politicians to support institutions, especially banks to grow because the country could not move without strong Institutions. He reiterated that consumers are complaining enormous acts of corruption by GSM operators in the country, whilst admonishing Commissioners to NATCOM to work assiduously towards protecting the interests of the people.
In rounding up the debate, Acting Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Hassan Sesay advised the nominees to work for Sierra Leone and not for any political party or region, adding that they should work within the framework of the law, for it would guide them in discharging their duties. He also said that it is incumbent on them to prove the President and Parliament right in nominating and approving their appointments respectively.
In concluding the debate, Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mohamed Sidie Tunis informed the Houses that the President has women in mind and as such he would continue to appoint more women to important positions in governance, adding that he had no doubt in the capacity of the nominees to perform. “All our nominees are highly qualified,” he assured. He said the House of Parliament is always open to them if they need help in the execution of their duties.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on 3rd December 2018, indicted Mr. Abdulai Barrie, a former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure (MWHI), for various corruption offences.
Mr. Abdulai Barrie was indicted on 5 counts of Using Office to Improperly Confer an Advantage, contrary to Section 42(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008; one count of Knowingly Abusing Position in Performing a Duty, contrary to Section 43 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008; one count of Failure to Disclose Interest to a Public Body, contrary to Section 45(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008; and one count of Knowingly Misleading the Anti-Corruption Commission, contrary to Section 127 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008.
According to the particulars of offence, Mr. Abdulai Barrie, on or about the 23rd June 2015, used his office to improperly award contracts for the refurbishment of various government properties to Ribar Enterprise, a business he jointly owns with his wife, amounting to One Billion, Eight Hundred and Eleven Million, One Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Nine Hundred Leones (Le 1,811,176,900), and was principal signatory to Accounts into which payments were made.
The Commission wishes to reassure the public of its commitment to controlling corruption at all times.
The United Nations launched its first-ever flagship report on disability and development on Monday; published by, for, and with, persons with disabilities, in the hopes of fostering more accessible, and disability-inclusive societies.
The UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018, coincides with the annual International Day, marked on 3 December, which the UN chief described as important for “the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including people with disabilities,” as promoted in the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.
Secretary-General António Guterres said the report “shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage” regarding most SDGs, “but also highlights the growing number of good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which they can live independently.”'
“In many societies, persons with disabilities often end up disconnected, living in isolation and facing discrimination,” he said, highlighting that more than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability.
The report demonstrates how disability-based discrimination has severe effects on transport, cultural life, and access to public places and services, and thus, the report leads with a push to change urban environments to make them more accessible.
The above challenges often go unseen as a result of insufficient questions relevant to disability, and consequently, an underestimation of the number of persons living with disabilities and affected by discrimination, and other barriers.
In 2006, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, geared toward protection of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, which requires associated parties to promote and protect their human rights.
Javier Vasquez, who helps head up the health division at Special Olympics International in his role as Vice President, stressed the connection between human rights and health when it comes to people living with disabilities.
“When people with intellectual disabilities can enjoy full access to human rights, this reflects in the form of genuine mental and physical health,” he said in an interview with UN News.
Further, he echoed the issue of gaps in inclusion and representation, and how this impacts our understanding of disabilities and these persons’ livelihoods.
On average, persons with disabilities die 16 years sooner than those living without disabilities, however: “A lot of people think people with intellectual disabilities die earlier because of their disabilities, and this is not true,” Mr. Vasquez verified.
“The problem is that these illnesses, in the context of people with disabilities, are undiagnosed or undetected, and they go through life without treatment. They are excluded many times because of stigma and discrimination.”
Mr. Vasquez called for more extensive and comprehensive research on the challenges and achievements of persons with disabilities, in support of a wider movement for equal access to rights in politics, education, and health.
“You don't find data in the national health information systems...so we are sharing our data to make these people visible.”
Commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Mr. Guterres asserted the United Nations’ pledge to fulfill the human rights of all persons.
“Let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized.”
Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday 2 December 2018 - His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has reassured his government’s commitment to human capital development while making a presentation at the Mandela 100 Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa.
This year’s festival focused on human capital development. President Bio was invited as special guest by World Bank President Jim Yong to join other world leaders to make commitment on investing in human capital development.
President Bio said his government had placed priority on human capacity building as the basis for development. He said in the absence of quality education, it would be difficult to move the development process forward. He noted that without access to quality education, children would not have the right start to life.
The President also informed his colleague Heads of State that as part of his commitment to the provision of quality and accessible education for all Sierra Leoneans, his government had increased budgetary allocation to education to 21%, adding that the figures would get better in the years to come.
“I made these commitments as President because it is my responsibility to the citizens. By prioritising and investing in our children through quality teaching and learning inputs, my government is investing in human capital growth and empowering the youths to be the generation that will end poverty in our time,” he said.
In another engagement, President Julius Maada Bio and team also met members of the Congressional Black Caucus, led by congress woman Barbra Lee and held fruitful discussions to explore possible areas of cooperation and engagement, especially on ways to leverage congressional and US investment in Sierra Leone.
The Mandela 100 Global Citizen Festival is a historic stage for not only donor countries but also for African countries standing up for his hope for the future, making sure that Africa was standing up and getting its voice heard. This year’s festival brought together its largest contingency of Heads of State, dignitaries, a group of the world’s most talented artists and influencers, and thousands of global citizens to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela.
Acquiring skills and employability has been a major challenge for youth employment in Sierra Leone.
However, a Community Based Organization Care for Needy Training Center has worked tirelessly in ensuring that they provide the needed skills for the empowerment and employability.
It was moment of solemnity and emotions seeing these young woman graduating from Dress making/ Decoration/Tayloring and Catering Services.
These young woman who has graduated today with these skills will automatically be employed as a market assessment proved that both skills are needed in the Wellington community where this institution is located.
It is worth noting that the Care For Needy Training Center is a church based organisation under the stewardship of Pastor Mrs Sarah Vandy (Jesus the Lamb of God church) a committed community servant who is passionate about Women's Empowerment along with her team of women of substance Elma Johnson and Janet Fatorma who are pioneering a mentorship program for these young woman who need this dignified experience and support so badly.
The testimonies of these young woman who graduated today is touching, listening them will only compelled you to act. The Institute gave three of their best students from each of the programs a set of start up kits. This is very impressive for a small organisation that is struggling to attract funds and is only able to get these little from it church counterpart.
Pastor Mrs Sarah Vandy in her Keynote address re-dedicated this day to the memory of her late husband who was a founding member for Care for Needy Training Centre. She challenged the young woman that they all have a responsibility to ensure that they upgrade themselves through economic empowerment for self reliance. She said "you must not leave all your burdens on the hands of your husbands or fiancees it is important that you trust yourself and be innovative on how you support yourself and also contribute to your household. You have earned yourselves dignity and I trust that you will use the skills you have acquired and change your communities for good" she advised.
The Guest Speaker Mr Jonathan Bob Lewis dwell his statement on honesty as many in these fields have proved not trustworthy, "we are living in a very challenging time, wherein to be honest sounds stupid. To be brave is to do things the wrong way, more and more we are seeing people who are exonerated,they are promoted corruption is the order of the day, exemplary leadership is disappearing everyday". He admonished the graduants to change this trend and be as sincere as they can to change the status quo and be God fearing as they face the world with their new skills.
The entire event was climaxed with surprise gifts being shared with both the students, tuitors and the proprietary of Care for Needy Training Centre. All the graduants and their families are very excited for the progress they have made in life
Erstwhile Chairman and Leader of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) John Oponjo Benjamin has last week donated Exercise Books and Science Sets to his Alma Mater Wesley Secondary School in Segbwema, Kailahun District, Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. This is in addition to other items like a laptop computer, loudspeakers, and more that were previously donated to the school.
Mr. Benjamin, who was also former flagbearer contender against current President Maada Bio for the 2018 SLPP Presidential Ticket said he is forever proud of his Alma Mater and fondly refers to it as the school that made him the man he became that has served his country and party well since those formative years in Secondary School.
This, he said, is seen as a contribution to the Free Education Program of the SLPP and President Maada Bio and it underscores the belief that JOB has in education as being a foundation for prosperity and a way to empower young people.
John Oponjo Benjamin said this is one of the ways he once again will continue to show leadership, vision, and commitment to his people, party, and country.
It is hoped that this will inspire others to do the same for their alma maters.
The books have the School's Crest of the Front Cover and the School Song printed on the back cover.
The Science set comes with batteries and other items to all students to perform basic science experiments and learn from it firsthand.
This is a great example of a patriot who despite not being in government continues to do his own as an individual to support the ideas of his party and its leadership.
Mr Benjamin has challenged fellow alumni and others to also donate books to the school and ensure that no student will ever need to buy exercise books for ANY subject at their alumni for the entire time they attend Wesley for the foreseeable future and hopes to make this an ongoing effort.