Support to Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Project
What is this project about
Sierra Leone's 1991 Constitution signalled an end to one-party rule and ushered in a new multi-party political dispensation following years of one party rule. The 1991 Constitution was endorsed three months after the civil war broke out in conjunction with the Jully 1999 Lome Peace Accord and as a result, part of the process of negotiating the end to the civil war provided for a review of the Constitution. Also the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), established in 2002 recommended that the Government of Sierra Leone give “serious consideration” to the creation of a new constitution, in order to promote human rights and the consolidation of peace.
In July 2013, the Government of Sierra Leone appointed and inaugurated a broad ranging Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) representing different sections of society, including political parties, democratic institutions, civil society, the media and key independent bodies. The 80-member CRC has been tasked with reviewing the 1991 Constitution and as part of its work the CRC is undertaking major civic education and consultation processes, which engages all segments of society in identifying recommendations for constitutional change.
The Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Project (2013-2015) managed by UNDP and implemented in close cooperation with the Constitutional Review Committee and Office of Attorney General seeks to help build the capacity of the Constitutional Review Committee to lead an inclusive, transparent, participatory and peaceful process of constitutional reform. A major expected result of the project is to ensure that the constitutional review process consolidates national Peace-building and State-building efforts through this consultative constitutional review process. The Project focuses on constitutional dialogue and reform as a mechanism for peace consolidation and political transformation.
Accomplishments so far
Since the launch of the CRC in July 2013 with support of UNDP, the committee has carried out a number of activities, including civic education, public consultations and dialogue on thematic issues. To complement the efforts of the CRC, United Nations with support from the Peace Building Fund, organized a series of dialogues to facilitate discussion with political parties, women, traditional and religious leaders and youths on the provisions of the 1991 consitution and to make recommendations for posible inclusion in a new constitution.
Sierra Leonean media practitioners have been trained on mediation and conflict sensitive reporting in order to ensure that issues of gender and non-discrimination are prioritized in their coverage.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Social Welfare and Children's Affairs, UNDP organized a nation-wide Women’s Voices Conference on gender-mainstreaming, to promote gender equality issues in the constitutional review process.
Nation-wide youth consultative meetings were held for the northern, southern, eastern and western regions of Sierra Leone targeting youths from various districts and chiefdoms. The workshops brought together youths from various walks of life including District Youth Councils, community youth associations, youth rights activists, people with disabilities, female youths to discuss and present their concerns to the CRC.
Political parties and parliamentarians have also been supported to generate discussions and consensus on the constitutional review. In collaboration with Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), UNDP organized an all political parties consultative dialogue.
Pre-Consultations Visit to the Provinces
A four man team from the Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution Review Committee (CRC) led by the Executive Secretary, Samuel Coker completed a nationwide pre-consultation visit to 12 districts in Sierra Leone. During the consultations, the team thoroughly engaged District Officers, Paramount Chiefs, Mayors and Chairmen of City and District Councils, Councilors, traditional leaders, the Sierra Leone Police and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), firstly to inform them about the imminent consultations but more importantly to solicit their co-operation for the civic education and public consultations.
UNDP Supports Civil Society to Promote CR Process
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the multi-donor basket fund have capacitated some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to undertake civic education on behalf of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC). Among the CSOs were West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), OXFAM, the National Commission for Democracy (NCD) and the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).
Civic Education on Radio and Television
To ensure greater outreach, the SLBC TV is providing coverage of CRC activities throughout the country. In addition to the provision of SMS messages to subscribers of Africell and Airtel. A new television programme focusing on developments in the review process ‘Alive with CRC’ comes up every Thursday from 11-12 noon whilst Face to Face with the Law is aired at 7-8 pm on Tuesdays. Seven (7) drama series depicting issues of constitutionalism and the CR process were produced. Viewers had the opportunity to get the latest information on CRC’s activities through the popular We Yus Programme on TV. The programmes sought the views, comments and opinions of citizens with particular reference to Paramount Chiefs and traditional leaders, minority ethnic groups, religious leaders, political parties and opinion leaders to generate programme content and feedback.
Combined Constitution and Peter Tucker’s Report Distributed
The Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) has distributed over 5,000 Copies of a synchronized 1991 Constitution and 2008 Peter Tucker’s Report, abridged version of the Constitution and copies of the March 2014 CRC Newsletter to different stakeholders in the 12 districts of Sierra Leone. The documents were made available to stakeholders ahead of the imminent National Civic Education and Public Consultations. According to the Secretary to the CRC, Samuel Coker: “The rationale for distributing the documents was to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to not only familiarize with the contents of the Constitution and the recommendations of Peter Tucker’s Report but to also create an avenue for people to input changes they desire in the extant constitution”.
Over 350 people have participated in a road show organized by the West African Network for Peace- building (WANEP) Sierra Leone. Dubbed “Make Yu Constitution” Road Show, the event aims among other things at overcoming the key challenge of awareness-raising about the constitutional review process in the border District of Kono.
Political Party Engagements
Political Parties have thrown their weight behind the constitutional review process, a process that would hopefully produce a democratic constitution that holistically reflects the will of the people. The seriousness of the engagement was displayed by the presence of National Executives of all the 10 political parties in the country.
CRC Contributes to the Fight against Ebola
The Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) with support from the UNDP has allocated 30% of their airtime at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) Television to Ebola sensitization. The hour long television and radio programmes which features CRC members and other personalities was initially initiated to sensitize members of the public about developments in the review process.
As part of their effort to promote a more educated and empowered citizenry in the Constitutional Review Process, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has provided promotional materials including posters, vehicle stickers and handbills to the CRC. The civic and public education materials would be displayed nation-wide to capture the attention of citizens about the review process. The posters depict the message of patriotism and nationalism whilst simultaneously encouraging the citizenry to speak up to the issues and make meaningful contributions to the process.
Production of Public Submission Forms
The Constitution Review Committee (CRC) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has produced about fifty thousand (50,000) copies of thematic Public Submission Forms for the national stakeholders and public consultations. Public Submission Forms were printed for seven of the nine thematic sub-committees at the CRC. The sub-committees include: Natural resources and the environment, Information, Education and Communications, Judiciary, Executive, Legislature, Local Government and other ancillary branches of Government and State policy and Human Rights. The revised Submission Forms, with graphic representation of the thematic issues contain questions that border on issues for constitutional change.
CRC Continues engagements despite Ebola
Despite Ebola outbreak and proclamation of emergency, Constitutional Review Committee continues to reach key stakeholders. Despite limited mobility and constraints, the CRC decided to continue its consultation with key stakeholders. Pursuant to that, consultative meetings with sub-committees were held.
In line with the tenets of democratic good governance and the paradigm shift from elite constitution making to democratic constitutional development, the Constitutional Review Committee, (CRC) has been encouraging institutions and organizations to present Position Papers on their wishes and aspirations for the revised Constitution. These papers detail the thinking of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Civil Society Organizations, (CSOs) for the promulgation of provisions that would not only stand the test of time, best also be acclaimed as global best practice.
The National Commission for Democracy NCD has hosted a team of prolific writers of five local languages on August 8, 2014 at the Anthony’s Parish Hall, Brookfield’s to validate the document that was produced at the Writers Workshop held at Makambo in Makeni. The meeting was facilitated by the Commission in a bid to translate relevant portions of the Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution and enhance wider public participation regarding the ongoing Constitutional Review Process. Six proficient writers including two of the original writers of each of the five ethnic groups – Krio, Temne, Mende, Limba, and Kono - make up the validation team with a clear focus on ascertaining whether the relevant portions of the Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution were adequately and reasonably translated.
Five graduate interns have been assigned to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) Secretariat by the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) to assist in areas of research, analysis, data input and
Media support. These interns have impacted positively on the administrative and technical structures of the Secretariat. Each has been assigned to one of the nine sub-committees for the analysis of the Public Submission Forms and other significant assignments including the uploading of videos, photos and other media into the CRC YouTube channel.
Social Media Forum
A WhatsApp group (Constitutional Review Sierra Leone (+232 76 387711) has been formed by the Communications and Outreach Unit of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) to create an avenue for effective and cohesive debate. Issues such as the death penalty, the tenure of the Presidency, the tenure of Paramount Chiefs, the age qualifications to contest the presidency, the controversial third term issue, citizenship rights and many others have informed previous debates. Participants have been submitting proposals for consideration by the CRC.
Videos of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) which were once limited to the broadcasting channels of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) could now be accessed on the YouTube Channel, CRC SIERRA LEONE (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx34A5PWkN1eJOCgRyVFJwQ Countless number of videos, dramas and slide-shows has been uploaded on the Channel to make it accessible not only to viewers who couldn’t watch the live programmes but also to Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora. From the launching ceremony to the weekly television programmes, the YouTube Channel provides viewers the enviable opportunity of viewing events as they unfold. The Channel contains videos of the launching ceremony, CRC sittings, and SLBC TV programmes - CRC Hour and Face to Face with the Law, drama episodes, slide-shows, pre-recorded outdoor events and many more.
Who finances it
Delivery in previous fiscal year
- Project start date
- July 2013
- Estimated end date
- March 2015
- Geographic coverage
- UN Joint Vision Programme
- Cluster 1 and 4 (Support to good governance)
- Constitutional Review Committee. Ministry of Justice. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
- Focal Point
- Sanaullah Baloch: Chief Technical Adviser Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
- UKaid, Europen Commission, UNDP.
- 2014 Budget
- $ US 2,100,515