The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) was recognized and commended for the role it has played in the Ebola Virus Disease crisis in Sierra Leone at the opening ceremony of the 28th Annual Meeting of the International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) held in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday 12th March, 2015.
The Chairperson of the ICC Advocate Mabed le Lourence Mushwana of South Africa in his opening address expressed pleasure that HRCSL reached out to the ICC and the network of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) throughout the globe for assistance on how best to address the human rights issues raised in the prevention and treatment of the dreadful epidemic”. This sentiment was echoed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein when he stated some of the challenges that the Commission had to assist with such as “ insufficient or inadequate responses by authorities; inadequate protection of health workers, stigmatization and discrimination; “.
In the concluding statement, the Assistant Secretary-General and Director Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP New York, emphasized the importance of human rights at all times. “Where there are public health emergencies, as seen with the recent Ebola virus outbreak”, he stated, “National Human Rights Institutions have demonstrated the value of waging a rights-based response which is also alert to risks of further rights infringement, not uncommon in emergency settings. For instance the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone provided vital technical expertise and advice to the government to safeguard the respect for human rights throughout the crisis, coordinating closely with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response and with UNDP to support human rights training for police and other officials while emergency laws were in place.”
The ICC Annual meeting is being held alongside the 28th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.