CHRDSL claims over 300,000 women and girls in Sierra Leone have experienced rape or sexual assault

RESS RELEASE

NO PUNISHMENT FOR PERPETRATORS OF SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SIERRA LEONE

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According to a recent research done by Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone(CHRDSL), over 30,000 women and girls across Sierra Leone have experienced rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage, human trafficking, or other forms of violence within the last 60 months. Only a small proportion of violence against women is reported. Many perpetrators have and will be getting away with it because the government’s system of handling rape cases and other violence against women and young girls is grossly ineffective.

According to available records at the Sierra Leone Police Family Support Unit (FSU), 8, 043 sexual and domestic violence offences were recorded by Police in Sierra Leone in 2015, only 1,438 of those cases were charged to court and 6605 are kept in view. 522 cases of domestic violence were recorded at the Freetown Family Unit, CID headquarters, 95 Sexual Penetration and 15 Rape cases in 2011. The report further stated that in 2012, 4,452 cases of domestic violence were reported with 992 Sexual Penetrations and 181 Rapes. In 2013, about 7,391 crimes of domestic violence were reported and registered with 1,417 of Sexual Penetration of children by boys and men were and 68 cases of Rape. In 2014, it was observed that 9,157 domestic violence matters were reported to the Police, 2,124 cases of Sexual Penetration and 77 cases of Rape.

CHRDSL also discovered that 2,765 cases have been charged to court and are on trial in various Magistrates and High Courts. 716 cases of child abuse are in the Kenema Court, and 815 in both the Western Area Rural and Urban Courts (Waterloo and Freetown Courts).

In the Western Area there were 2,851 cases kept in view, in the Southern Region 350, the Northern Region 988, and the Eastern Region 647. In the South about 357 suspects are under Preliminary Investigations (PI) and on trial in the High Court, whilst 867 are presently before the Makeni District Magistrate and High Court Judge.

CHRDSL discovered that there are huge backlog cases of sexual offences still with the State Prosecution (State Counsels) in the Provincial headquarters towns and with the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), in Freetown awaiting advice before they are charged to court. Others were closed and discarded due to lack of evidence and mediation on advice from the Law Officers’ Department or the DPP’s office.

All these are criminal offenses and perpetrators must face the full rigors of the laws for violation of children’s rights. Violence of any kind-physical, sexual psychological or verbal -is never justified.

We at CHRDSL are expressing our concern about the low conviction rates of sexual and gender-based violence offences in the country.

We think it is utterly absurd and has promoted violence against women and children and prevented many Sierra Leonean from accessing justice for far too long. It is time for Sierra Leone Government and other authorities concerns to give this issue the importance it deserves.

We are of the view that child and women sensitive special protection measures such as multi-sectoral early detection and prevention and response interventions are totally lacking in Sierra Leone. Laws and Policies addressing Gender Based Violence and Violence against Children have been enacted in Sierra Leone and several countries and are already showing results by ensuring that there is an age appropriate justice system and response when dealing with the most vulnerable children. Gender-based violence has deep social and economic consequences. Its impact is far reaching: it can cause lasting damage to mental and physical health to those who experience it directly, on their children, as well as on their family and friends

In view of the above, CHRDSL is hereby reminding Sierra Leoneans of the 2007, National Child Rights Bill, which categorically states the state’s responsibility in section 51. (1) The Ministry, in collaboration with other Ministries, shall have the responsibility to promote the enjoyment of child rights and welfare in Sierra Leone. (2) Subject to this Act, the Ministry shall have the overall function to monitor, supervise and coordinate the activities of all child welfare committees and to ensure the progressive advancement of children’s rights and welfare throughout the country.

Chapter 2-section 5-1a of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone states clearly that the security peace and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone shall be the primary purpose and responsibility of Government and to this end it shall be the duty of the armed forces, the police, public officers and all security agents to protect and safeguard the people of Sierra Leone.

Note: Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL) is a Rights based social-policy advocacy Organisation. We Draw attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights. CHRDSL is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.

Abdul M Fatoma
Chief Executive
CHRDSL
14-04-2016
©HUMAN RIGHTS BRIEF



Categories: Human interest, Security, Sierra Leone, Women

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