From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, UPR Consultative Workshops to kick start soon
By Augustine Samba
Nov 18, 2010, 17:08

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Hon. Abdul Serry Kamara has said that they would be conducting workshops in all the four provincial headquarters in the country on the Universal Periodic Review.

Speaking at a press conference in Freetown on Wednesday 17th November 2010, the minister disclosed that the four separate workshops would be geared towards validating Sierra Leone’s position as the country would be due for a review in May 2011.  He said the country review to be done alongside that of other states will take place during the 11th Session of the Human Rights Council next year. “The review will be based on reports provided by National Governments, the United Nations family and its relevant treaties as well as other stakeholders including NGOs, the Civil Society and each country’s Human Rights Commission,” he informed, saying in that vein, all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), including other relevant stakeholders are required to fully participate in all the prescribed steps from the preparation of reports to the final review and implementation of the recommendation of the HRC.

Giving a brief outline of the UPR, Lawyer Serry-Kamal informed that it was established by the General Assembly Resolution 60/25 on the 15th of March 2006, noting that the review was a unique Universal Human Rights review mechanism that is a completely state-driven process which allows all 192 UN member states critique, comment and make recommendations to one another.  “The UPR also established the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC),” the Minister went on, while revealing that the UPR program reoccurs after every four years and in the process, recommendations and observations from previous cycle are re-examined and reevaluated.  “Continuous re-evaluation sheds light on the uncooperative state behaviors with the HRC, and illuminates consistent and gross violation of Human Rights,” he proffered, adding that such a process has a significant potential of empowering the HRC to engage states in a timely fashion to encourage human rights progress and stop violation.

Back to the workshop, the Justice Minister said it would increase the knowledge of participants on the importance, functions and detailed proceedings of the UPR, while at the same time strengthening their capacities to contribute actively in national consultative processes, including the creation of sound public information dissemination strategy and sensitization of the Populace on the UPR state report. “At least 50 participants/ representatives are going to discuss thematic issues such as, children rights, women’s right, rights to persons with disabilities prisoners and many others,” he stated.

According to him, the first workshop is going to be held in Kenema on 23rd, to be followed in Bo on the 24th, Makeni on the 25th and in Freetown on the 26th and 29 this month.

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