STATE HOUSE PRESS REPORT
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION PRESENTS REPORT TO PRESIDENT KOROMA
The chairperson of the Human Rights Commission Sierra Leone has today presented the Commissionís third Annual Report 2009 to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at State House.
The Chairperson, Edward Sam said the Commission is please to note that the human rights situation in Sierra Leone in 2009 was generally satisfactory and commended the government for its observance and respect for many of the fundamental rights and freedom set out in our 1991 constitution and in international agreements that the country has signed and ratified.
He however observed that there are still challenges that government must address.
The report commends government for up grading infrastructure, improving health services and increasing the allocation to the health sector in the 2009 national budget.
It also called on government and the International Community to redouble their efforts and resources to tackle and overcome poverty in Sierra Leone.¬†¬†
On Civil and political rights he said the report noted the institution of the MACP in response to the spate of armed robberies but was disappointed at the low rate of prosecutions and convictions for serious crimes.¬†¬†¬†
He maintained that the death penalty violates the right to life and called for its abolition.
Edward Sam commended the president for the apology to women and girls in March 2010 and asked for the disability rights bill to be passed into law.
With regards youths unemployment the Commission called for government to operationalize the Youth Commission and to implement the full recommendation of the TRC.
Speaking President Koroma thanked them for the report and that issues raised have been noted and will be closely considered by government.
He commended the Commission for doing a good job and expressed satisfaction for government being given a pass mark on human rights.
President Koroma promised to invite the Commission to a meeting with stakeholders for discussions on the report.
PRESIDENT KOROMA LAUNCHES SCP
His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has last Saturday launched the Smallholders Commercialization Programme (SCP) in Kenema, east of Sierra Leone, a nationwide initiative aimed at increasing the productivity of Sierra Leoneís agricultural sector.
The US$ 403 million agricultural sector growth project is one of President Koromaís top priorities on the ďAgenda for ChangeĒ that is geared towards achieving food security and self-sufficiency in the country.
With a life span of five years running from 2011 to 2014, the SCP will strengthen the economy and get over two and half million people out of poverty.
Speaking at the launching of the programme, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma described the occasion as a great day for the people of Sierra Leone and farmers in particular.
ďWe want agriculture to take the lead in development in Sierra Leone thus we must move agriculture forward because most of our people are farmersĒ, he vowed, and added that ďgovernment through the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security has beefed up the tractorisation programme by increasing the number of tractors, power tillers, combine harvester and other farming implementsĒ.
President Koroma said thereafter; ďwe decided on opening up our roads so that our crops harvested will not perish in the bushĒ.
He informed all that the SCP involved many sectors and ministries. The President stated that the programme will enable farmers sell their crops and earn cash out of what they grow and export some if necessary.
The SCP, President Koroma stated will provide fertilizer, good roads networks, markets, and training and extension services for farmers.
Government, according to President Koroma has adopted the right policy in consistent with the African Union, Food and Agricultural Organizations, G8 and other partners.
He disclosed that the Islamic Development Bank has allocated funds for the rehabilitation of Matru Jong oil mill.
President Koroma said funds have been also provided by other donors to revive the cocoa and coffee production in Kenema and Kailahun. He said resources will be made available for irrigation and large scale production of rice.
The President also vowed that Sierra Leone must produce rich people out of farming especially in rice production. He said with the SCP farmers will be fully empowered.
President Koroma encouraged farmers to take the lead in agriculture as nobody has to do it for Sierra Leone as a nation except Sierra Leoneans.
The Resident Minister East, William Juana Smith said that the scheme was proposed to support food production by cultivating in-land-valley swamps, create cassava production centers and stimulate agricultural production.
Mr. Smith said the SCP is also aimed at building the capacities of farmers and make farming a lucrative profession.
The chairman of Kenema District Council, Patrick Sam expressed delight at receiving President Koroma.
He said at any time the President Koroma visits Kenema he comes along with a gift for the people of the eastern region which will leave them with happiness.
ďWe are working day and night to implement your Agenda for ChangeĒ, Mr. Sam told President Koroma.
The Paramount Chief of Nogowa chiefdom P.C. Amara Banya Vaganhun thanked God for having President Koroma as Head of State of Sierra Leone.
P.C. Vaganhun praised President Koroma for showing keen interest for his people, the country, and for his bold steps in reforming the agricultural sector.
P.C. Vaganhun implored land owners to help the scheme with land. He cautioned detractors not to sabotage the All Peoples Congress led government, for development is for everybody in Sierra Leone.
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay recalled that the process started in 2008 when President Koroma put together the initiative.
Food and Agricultural Organizations Country Representative, Kelvin Galaga said he is looking forward to work with other ministries for the achievement of the SCP.
He noted that government has opened many opportunities for farmers which he encouraged them to explore and improve agricultural growth in Sierra Leone.