Rural feeder roads in Sierra Leone are a link that enables service access into the interior and paves a way to deliver benefits to the ‘last-mile’-difficult to reach communities. Like many other government service providers, Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) capacity to reach out to remote communities has been seriously inhibited due to the lack of adequate transportation facilities and rough and almost impassable terrain.
Recognizing this dire need, UNDP, with funds from Irish Aid, has procured and commissioned 6 Honda XL-125 Motorbikes at the Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone Head Office in Freetown. These motorbikes have come as a strategic intervention and a major boost that seeks to improve the capacity of the HRCSL four regional offices and process servers in Freetown. With a rationale to support the HRCSL to effectively deliver on its statutory mandate of promotion and protection of human rights in Sierra Leone and to ensure compliance with its monitoring and reporting responsibilities, this intervention will muster cloud of hopes in communities that once felt the HRCSL could not be brought to their doorsteps to discuss human rights issues.
"Mobility of our field staff recently came as a priority request to UNDP in order to support the Commission's field activities and reach the many right holders out there that need the commission's support. The Commission is grateful to UNDP and Irish Aid for such a timely support."- says Chairperson of the Human Right Commission, Patricia Narsu Ndanema.
On an average, the HRCSL is expected to monitor and conduct human rights outreaches in nooks and crannies of all 16 districts to support deepening of human rights culture and best practices that assure enhanced protection and promotion of human rights in Sierra Leone. Cycling now into hard-to-reach communities, HRCSL field officers are once again full of exuberance and are motivated with brand new motorbikes that could take them to the distant communities where vehicles couldn’t reach. Similarly, the glittering smiles of community people is assured as they would spot the black-and-white motorbikes branded with inscription of UNDP, Irish Aid and HRCSL. Once again, motorbikes have brought the HRCSL closer to communities on the far receiving end of human right services, chiefly, to reach out and engage with citizens in remote areas of the country where issues of human rights are prevalent, and therefore, the need for support to address existing institutional challenges that many could not have considered.
These new logistics support would accelerate the HRCSL activities which include, but not limited to, investigate or inquire into on its own or on complaint by any person or allegations of human rights violations and to report thereon in writing; monitor and document violations of human rights in Sierra Leone; support effective co-operation with non-governmental organisations and other public-interest bodies engaged in the field of human rights, as enshrined in the Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone Act of 2004.
This support (procurement of 6 Honda XL-125 Motorbikes for HRCSL) is totaling a sum of USD15,333 made possible with funds from the Government of Ireland through Irish Aid and builds on previous interventions and partnerships to support the Commission’s national priorities.
UNDP acknowledges the timeliness of this support following recent capacity building training on international human rights frameworks and mechanisms, gender issues and resource mobilization it provided for the Commission’s human resource. This training targeted 28 HRCSL staff which including 5 new Commissioners and 23 technical staff. Additional support to staff capacity building included a study tour of six (6) personnel sent to the Uganda Human Rights Commission on knowledge exchanges-thereby strengthening the south-south cooperation.
Further support given to the HRCSL so far in 2020 includes training of 42-member (33 male 9 female) District Human Rights Committee reporting on the SDGs and African Vision; supported the Commission’s engagement with 70 (50 male and 20 female) representatives of civil society organizations on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process; human rights mobile complaint hearing, media outreach, routine monitoring activities of quarantine homes, and on lockdown and checkpoints. There is an ongoing comprehensive HRCSL institutional capacity assessment which will ultimately inform the development of HRCSL capacity building plan Strategic plan (2021-2025).
UNDP’s Country Program Document (2020-2023) highlights commitments for the achievement and realization of the country’s national development plan and emphasizes area-based approach to accompany the people of Sierra Leone in this last decade of delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), therefore, these interventions are not a sharp turn.
"UNDP is committed to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Human Right Commission. Therefore, the 6 motorbikes procured for the commission demonstrates our commitment to 'leave no one behind' whilst we promote inclusive democratic governance in Sierra Leone." -says Kadi Jumu Peters-Team Lead of UNDP Governance Cluster.