Sierra Leone: A first-ever UN Treaty Bodies Focused Review
Published on 17 Dec 2021, 04:59 PM
Implementation of Treaty Body recommendations at the heart of this initiative
Photo of the participants
The ambition of this pilot exercise, the "focused review", was to bring the treaty bodies to the field and relocate from Geneva the assessments made in the context of the country reviews . The review took place from 7 to 9 December 2021 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and was carried out by the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) in partnership with the Centre for Civil and Political Rights and the Commonwealth Secretariat. It took the form of a review carried out between reporting cycles at the national level. The idea was to discuss how countries are implementing treaty bodies' specific recommendations selected for the follow-up procedure.
Several (former) Treaty Body members participated actively in this review, including Abdelwahab El Hani of the Committee Against Torture and Imeru Tamrat Yurezu of the Human Rights Committee. Huguette Bokpe Gnacadja, former member of the CEDAW Committee and Benoit Van Keirsbilck of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, participated online.
In addition to the Africa Coordinator of the CCPR-Centre, Florence Simbiri-Jaoko, Dominique Zipoli and Julio Veiga-Bezerra from the Geneva Human Rights Platform, Yashavi Nain from the Commonwealth Secretariat and Anis Mahfoud from the West Africa Office of the United Nations High Commissioner United for Human Rights (OHCHR) were on the mission.
Exchanges with national actors
During the review, that lasted two and a half days, several sessions were facilitated between the delegation of the treaty bodies, national actors and other stakeholders. These included the Interministerial Committee on Drafting Reports to Treaty Bodies, the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission, the Sierra Leone National Commission for Children and representatives of civil society. Discussions focused on how the recommendations are being implemented on the ground and the related challenges. Representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator attended the event as observers.
Specific focus on torture, gender equality and children's rights
Three key issues were discussed with all stakeholders :
- The prohibition of torture and ill-treatment,
- Gender equality
- The rights of the child.
This cluster approach made it possible to examine the recommendations of the treaty bodies in a holistic manner and not just in relation to a specific Committee or treaty. They have also been linked both to the relevant recommendations accepted by Sierra Leone during the last cycle of the UPR as well as to the findings made by the United Nations special rapporteurs.
A successful pilot project
This project shows the benefits of such a national follow-up between Geneva-based reviews. It has enabled an inclusive approach of all stakeholders on the human rights situation in Sierra Leone.
“I am delighted to have had the chance to take part in this pilot review conducted by four UN treaty bodies. It is very important to try to imagine new ways to monitor UN Conventions, ”says Benoit Van Keirsbilck, member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and director of Defense for Children International-Belgium who has participated in this pilot project in a personal capacity.
"It was a participatory and learning exercise that can form the basis for exploring the appropriate modalities for strengthening the effectiveness of the TB system," said Imeru Tamerat Yurezu, member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. United who traveled to Freetown and participated in the pilot project in his personal capacity.
The Centre will learn from the take-aways of this first mission in order to prepare future pilots, of which one is already being planned in 2022.
Article made with the support of Domenico Zipoli, Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.