UN H’Rights Office Supports Joint Liberia, Sierra Leone Human Rights, Anti Corruption Commissions’ Dialogue

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A five-day joint exchange of experience focusing on the complementarity between protecting human rights and fighting corruption concluded successfully in Freetown on Friday, 31 May. The event saw the formulation of plans for a follow-up exchange visit and a dialogue between the two countries on the intersection between Corruption and Human Rights, scheduled to be held in Monrovia in September this year. With support from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)Liberia, the Chairpersons of the Liberia Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Cllr T. Dempster Brown and Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Cllr Alexandra Zoe and their teams held working sessions with their Sierra Leonean counterparts,  and met with various entities including the human rights working group, the UN Resident Coordinator, the UNDP Resident Representative, the Ambassador of Ireland, and the Deputy Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone. These significant meetings underscored the importance of collective efforts in addressing the intersection between Corruption and Human Rights.  During the engagements, OHCHR Liberia’s Representative, Christian Mukosa, said, “There is clear interconnection between corruption and human rights. Corruption undermines state institutions and affects their ability to uphold, safeguard, and fulfil human rights, especially for vulnerable and marginalised individuals and groups.” Reaffirming the importance of collaboration between national human rights institutions and anti-corruption bodies, OHCHR Liberia is steadfast in its mission to strengthen synergies among these institutions within Liberia and regionally. “This engagement will go a long way in reshaping our advocacy for human rights promotion, protection, and fulfilment in our two countries and strengthen the implementation of our institutional mandate in ensuring fairness and equity in our different Countries,” Cllr Brown of INCHR said in Freetown. He also emphasised that corruption is a major human rights concern that contributes to many human rights violations. Similarly, Cllr Alexandra K. Zoe said, “Corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development, and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division, and the environmental crisis, all serious human rights issues and concerns”. She also mentioned that the LACC is committed to this collaboration and enhanced engagement. The Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Patricia Narsu Ndanema, stated that “The successful fight against corruption improves the promotion, protection, and fulfilment of human rights. While corruption affects the enjoyment of human rights”. She acknowledged that adequate collaboration with the Anti-Corruption Commission can enhance the implementation of both institutions’ mandates and strengthen public trust. Welcoming the delegation at his office, Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. said, “There is no way to divorce the fight against corruption from human rights and that the complementarity is unequivocal and incontestable. “Corruption fuels poverty and deny people of their basic human rights, including rights to education and health,” he added. UN Resident Coordinator Seraphine Wakana shared her experience on human rights, justice, and corruption with the Liberian delegation and called on them to build the capacities of civil society organizations. She added that “we need human rights to work for successful fight against corruption.” And mentioned trust, communications, and awareness-raising, as critical to their work.  The engagements in Freetown laid the foundation for establishing strong networks and relationships among human rights and anti-corruption commissions in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and beyond. The opportunity provided a platform for sharing experiences and lessons learned, and increased awareness. It follows the announcement by the Government of Liberia to soon establish the War Crimes and the Anti-corruption Courts. The visit is part of OHCHR’s Regional Program for Technical Cooperation (RPTC) with the objectives to facilitate exchanges of experience between the Sierra Leone and Liberia Human Rights Commissions and Anti-corruption Commissions and ensure there is a human rights-based approach in their work.

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