In collaboration with UNIPSIL, the Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone HRC-SL on 12th October 2010 held a two-day consultative conference on the “Status of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Recommendations” at the British Council Auditorium, Tower Hill in Freetown.
In his statement HRC Commissioner Edward Sam said the adoption and implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) would by no small means assist us as a people to rise above the bitter conflict of the past that caused unspeakable violations of human rights and left a legacy of dehumanization, hatred and fear.
He noted the need for tolerance is pivotal for going by the dictates of the TRC report. “We need to confront the legacies of the war because of the need for tolerance against prejudice, acknowledgement and accountability as against recrimination, a need for reparation, not retribution, a need for community, not victimization; a need for understanding, not for suspicion and a need for reconstruction, not for greed,” he catalogued. He said for the above reasons and as the legal framework requires, government needs to faithfully and expediently implement the recommendations of the report that fall directly under its purview as well as encouraging other institutions to do same.
He thanked Government for its unhindered support to the work of the commission in carrying out its statutory mandate and respecting its independence. He especially applauded government for the establishment of reparations fund for war victims with funding from the UN Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) and the setting up of the National Youth Commission in fulfillment of the requirements of the TRC. He also cited the presidential apology to women and girls that was made in Moyamba by President Koroma as a step in the right direction as well as government’s ratifying the Convention on Persons with Disability. “Sierra Leone on Monday 4th October 2010 became the 93rd country to ratify the convention,” he informed.
Chairman of War Victims, Mr. Edmond Conteh said he was disturbed that the implementation of the TRC recommendation started late in the country, especially in the area of reparation. He said the nation seems to have forgotten the price innocent civilians like himself paid for peace. “Government and everybody keep talking about sustaining peace in Sierra Leone but victims are dying because of neglect,” he charged, adding that peace does not only mean doing away with guns or integrating ex-combatants into main stream society. He lamented over the fact that those that perpetrated mayhem against them continue to live in luxury while they, the victims of war are daily begging in the streets. He used the occasion to call the UN, INGOs, government and private institutions to provide job opportunities for war victims.
Representing UNIPSIL was the Chief Human Rights officer, Madam Beatriz Balbin who started by recognizing progress made by government in establishing the reparations programme and the launching of the War Victims Trust Fund, though she said other significant recommendations are yet to be implemented. She said the meeting would serve as an opportunity for all the stakeholders to review the status of implementation and to make concrete suggestions. She concluded by revealing that UNIPSIL’s Human Rights Section has been working with the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) by providing technical support, as the UN Peace-building fund provided resources that have been used to establish structures within the NaCSA, to complete the registration of beneficiaries, to provide medical support to the survivors of the war, and also micro-grants to some of the victims.
She commended the Special Court for the historic progress in addressing impunity with the completion of all cases in record time, with only one before the court.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.