This statement is delivered by CIVICUS together with our national partner organization, the Sierra Leone Campaign for Good Governance. We commend Sierra Leone for its global leadership on promoting and protecting civil society and in particular its sponsorship of Human Rights Council Resolution 27/31 on the protection of civil society space.

We further recognise the challenges Sierra Leone faces in rebuilding its democracy and infrastructure since the end of the brutal civil war and most recently the ebola outbreak. We note however that restrictions on fundamental freedoms continue to impede efforts to advance democratic consolidation.

In this context, we are concerned that civil society continues to be subjected to judicial persecution, intimidation and threats for advancing their human rights concerns. In particular, land rights activists continue to be persecuted for defending their legitimate rights against corporate and business interests.

Mr. President, we also express concerns over threats to human rights defenders who document and report on issues of accountability of government officials and attempts to intimidate these human rights defenders.

We are further alarmed by restrictions on freedom of expression and are concerned about the use of provisions in the Public Order Act and Criminal and Seditious libel laws to prosecute journalists who write about actions and activities of the government and government officials.

To address these concerns, we urge the government of Sierra Leone to take all necessary measures to implement recommendations pertaining to unwarranted restrictions on civic space put forward during its UPR. Specially, we urge your government to operationalize recommendations, including:

  1. Repealing the Public Order Act and Criminal and Seditious Libel laws, and guarantee freedom of expression for journalists (111.164);
  2. Combating impunity by ensuring prompt, thorough and transparent investigations of all violations against human rights defenders, and the prosecution of perpetrators (111.148) and:
  3. Refraining from criminalizing the legitimate activities of human rights defenders and journalists and repeal or amend all laws and policies which restrict their activities and rights (111.161) Thank you Mr. President
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