The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) yesterday at the Bank Complex, held a symposium to educate its Commissioners and staff on the procedures and best practices in Constitutional Review Processes (CRC), and to obtain feed-back and information that will help enrich the Commission’s Position paper to be presented to the CRC.
The symposium attracted stakeholders from the CRC, Legal Practitioners, Sierra Leone Police force, the Military, Civil Societies, the International Community (UNDP), the media among others.
According to Commissioner Olu Williams, the review of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone has been a long outstanding recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CRC) as section 7(2)(c) of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Act No 9 of 2004 gives the Commission the mandate to review existing legislation.
She maintained that in 2007, the Peter Tucker Commission was set up with the responsibility of reviewing the 1991 Constitution and in accordance with its mandate the HRCSL made a submission which included recommendation proffered by the TRC, adding that President Ernest Bai Koroma launched the CRC in July 2013 which kick- started the process of reviewing the said Constitution by operating through eight sub- committees working on thematic issues.
According to the Chairperson of the programme, Madam Jasmine Jusu Sheriff, she is one person that is passionate about Sierra Leone’s Constitution as she had always been interested in Constitution and has been following such process since 1989, when she was a member of the Jenkins Johnson-lead executive of the Bar Association that was so influential in pushing for the establishment of the first Peter Tucker Constitutional Review Commission.
She disclosed that she believed completely that the law has the capacity to transform and has the power to change the world, explaining that having the constitutional process is a great opportunity to make a change as ‘a bad process cannot deliver a good outcome’
Madam Sheriff maintained that no matter how much time they spent discussing the content of the constitution, if the process by which they arrive at the constitution is problematic, the final outcome will be problematic itself, adding that they need to learn from what happened to the first Peter Tucker’s Commission Review Committee.
She encouraged all to have at the back of their mind that the process should be people- centred, transparent, honest and full of integrity, as human right practitioners.
Commissioner Brima A. Sheriff, states that the Constitution is the sole set of fundamental principles for established precedent according to which the state is governed as National Constitution are imprinted with global social conditions which now stress the discuss of human rights.
He maintained that for HRCSL, the constitutional review process presents a perfect opportunity for them fulfil one of their key mandate which is to advice government concerning draft legislation that may affect human rights, explaining that they view it also as an opportunity for individuals to take responsibility in drafting a human right friendly constitution.
By Alhaji M. Kamara
Thursday May 28, 2015