The Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) on Wednesday 8th August 2012, briefed Parliamentarians on the essence of repealing the 1962 Act of Parliament which brought the SLRCS into being.
The session, which was held during a pre-legislative briefing in Committee Room No.1 in the House of Parliament also viewed the domestication of International Humanitarian Law within the laws of Sierra Leone to meet international best practices.
The repeal of the 1962 Act of Parliament was championed by the Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Madam Oya Sankoh, who was present during the briefings to make way for the new bill.
|Members of Parliament, International Committee of the Red Cross and Sierra Leone Red Cross Society staff
According to the Minister, the domestication of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and its Additional Protocols into the laws of Sierra Leone, was the brain-child of the National Committee on IHL to meet internationally acclaimed standards. The bill she went on, is in tandem with international standards relating to the laws of armed conflict.
IHL as a branch of public international law regulates relations between and among States such as restricting the methods of warfare, protection of civilians among others.
For his part, the Secretary General of SLRCS, Mr. Emmanuel Tommy recalled Henry Dunant’s role in the formation of the Red Cross Society during the 1859 Solferino’s incidence.
He further described the Society as an auxiliary public body in the country which assists in armed conflict, situations of violence, and during period of national disasters. He said the enactment of the new bill will further re-enforce the SLRCS as the only national body that is independent and technical in nature in assisting public authorities in humanitarian field.
He used the forum to encouraged Members of Parliament (MPs) during legislation to take into consideration tax exemption for SLRCS, and to create a government subvention/budget line for their operations which is heavily donor dependent.
In response, the Chairman of the Pre-legislative briefings, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu, who also doubles as member of SLRCS Port Loko Branch, underscored the essence of the dialogue. He said this has put MPs in a better footing to contribute to the debates when the bill will be piloted in Parliament for enactment into law.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.