The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) was established by an Act of Parliament in 2004 (Act No. 9 of 2004) to protect and promote human rights in Sierra Leone. Since its establishment, it has undertaken a number of activities to strengthen its capacity and promote and protect human rights.
The HRCSL became truly operational in 2007, although Commissioners took office in December, 2006. The five Commissioners were appointed through a transparent and participatory process that commenced in 2005 with a call for applications for the post of Commissioner. Short listed applicants were interviewed by a selection panel comprising six representatives of civil society interest groups and one representative of the government.
The Selection Panel submitted a list of seven candidates to the President who selected five nominees whose names were gazetted for public scrutiny and review. In October 2006 the five nominees were approved by Parliament, and thereafter took the Oath of Office before the President on 11th December 2006.
Since the appointment of Commissioners, significant progress has been made in operationalising the Commission. The Commissioners were walked through a two week comprehensive training facilitated by Commissioner Aliro Omara of the Uganda Human Rights Commission. This was followed by a three-week international study tour of the Ghanaian, Ugandan, and South African Human Rights Commissions. This was with the view to further build the capacity of the Commissioners to embark on their statutory responsibilities.
Since then, the Commission has undertaken a number of activities intended to promote human rights:
These include setting up the structure for the work of the Commission, formulation and adoption of the Human Resource Manual (HRM) and the Financial Policies, promulgating of the Complaints Investigation and Inquiries Rules of Procedure.
HRCSL embarked on a strategic planning process, and held consultations with various stakeholders. Through the participatory approach, HRCSL gathered information on the external and internal environments affecting human rights in the country, drafted its Mission and Vision Statements, and determined its strategic priorities and goals and developed a Strategic Plan with the full contribution of all relevant stakeholders and partners.
The Commission has now set itself clear goals aimed at effectively addressing future challenges. The three year strategic plan 2009 – 2011 set out eight priority goals as follows:
1. Mandate of the Commission: To carry out the core statutory functions of the Commission;
2. Civil and Political Rights: To promote the realization and protection of civil and political rights in Sierra Leone;
3. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: To engage government to progressively implement its obligations on economic, social and cultural rights;
4. Equality and Non-Discrimination: To promote the right to equality and non-discrimination;
5. Participation in national affairs: To promote awareness of the right to participate in national affairs; and,
6. Institutional Capacity: To strengthen and support HRCSL’s institutional capacity.
7. Regionalization: To bring HRCSL services to the communities
8. TRC Recommendations: To promote the implementation of the TRC Recommendations and other Transitional Justice Mechanisms.