Action Plan: Sierra Leone National Action Plan 2016-2018
Action Plan Cycle: 2016
Lead Institution: Family Support Unit Sierra Leone Police
Support Institution(s): Sierra Leone Police The Judiciary Ministry of Internal Affairs Ministry of Social Welfare and Children’s Department; Campaign for Good Governance Womens Forum United for Humanity AdvocAid Network Movement for Youth and Children Welfare Rainbow Center National Committee on Gender-Based Violence (NacGBV)
Policy AreasCapacity Building, E-Government, Gender, Health, Marginalized Communities, Public Service Delivery, Security & Public Safety
Status quo or problem/ issue to be addressed
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) found that women and girls were subjected to systemic abuse during the conflict, such as torture, rape, sexual abuse, sexual slavery, trafficking, enslavement, abductions, amputations, forced pregnancy, forced labour, and detention. The TRC noted that due to discrimination, women suffer from low socio-economic status. This affects women’s personal security, inhibits their access to and participation in public decision-making bodies, and is a barrier to viable economic activities. Sadly this trend has continued in the post-war period. Currently data on sexual offences are partly found with the FSU and also with the Judiciary after prosecution. There is a need for a comprehensive data and approach to addressing this issue.
The Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Sierra Leone Police, as part of the post-conflict reconstruction effort and reinstituting a human rights culture in Sierra Leone, is the Government’s focal institution mandated to deal with issues of Sexual and Gender-based Violence. However, despite the commitment shown by the leadership of the FSU, this unit is one of the most under-resourced within the Government. This lack of funding and weak human capacity has a trickledown effect on women and girls ability to access justice. As a result, perpetrators of sexual violence continue to commit crimes of sexual violence with utmost impunity. The lack of a forensic lab with trained and qualified technicians is also an impediment to achieving justice as many cases brought before the Court lack the required evidence. Furthermore, the lack of data and directory of convicted perpetrators provides protection of their identity, making it easier for them to migrate to other jurisdictions to commit the same crimes. It is evident from the current FSU Report that sexual violence crimes are on the increase especially for young girls under 18, while conviction rates remain extremely low. It is therefore incumbent on the Government of Sierra Leone to commit fully to protecting women and girls from sexual violence as stipulated in Pillar 8 of the Agenda for Prosperity which is the country’s development plan and the full implementation of the Sexual Offences Act 2012.
Eliminate Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Sierra Leone
Brief Description of Commitment (140 character limit)
The SLP will publish data on sexual violence against women and girls, establish a forensic lab with trained and qualified personnel, develop a directory for all sexual violence convicts, and provide free health services for women affected by sexual violence in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 1. Sexual Violence Against Women and Children
The SLP will publish data on sexual violence against women and girls, establish a forensic lab with trained and qualified personnel, develop a directory of all sexual violence convicts, and provide free health services for women affected by sexual violence in collaboration with the ministry of health.
- Publish data on sexual violence issue on a half yearly basis
- Develop the framework for the establishment of a forensic lab on gender base violence
- Set up a forensic lab to fast track sexual violence cases
- Development of online directory of all sexual violence convicts and published on a half yearly basis.
Responsible institution: Family Support Unit-Sierra Leone Police.
Supporting institution(s): Campaign for Good Governance, Women’s Forum, United for Humanity, AdvocAid, Network Movement for Youth and Children Affairs, Rainbow Center, National Committee on Gender-Based Violence.
Start date: July 2016 End date: June 2018
This commitment aimed to reduce gender-based sexual violence in Sierra Leone by accelerating the investigation and prosecution of offenders and providing public information on gender-based sexual violence to help communities protect themselves. The action plan identified sexual violence as a major contribution to women’s marginalization and lack of social and economic power. To address this, the commitment seeks to:
- establish a forensic laboratory to accelerate the investigation and prosecution of offenders; and
- regularly provide the public information on gender-based sexual violence.
At the midterm, the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police published an annual report on sexual violence for 2016. However, the Unit did not publish a report every six months in 2017 as required by Milestone 1.1. Framework for establishing a forensic lab was completed in January 2016, prior to the commencement of the action plan (Milestone 1.2).  However, work on the forensic laboratory had not begun (Milestone 1.3). Finally, there was no progress toward an online directory of sexual offenders (Milestone 1.4) because of concerns by the police force about possible infringements on offenders’ rights. For more information, please see the 2016−2018 midterm report. 
End of term: Limited
Milestone 1: The government published sexual violence data but not on a half-yearly basis, as required by the commitment. Sexual violence data was part of the Sierra Leone Police Annual Crime Statistics published in 2017 and 2018. These reports are available online. 
Milestone 2: According to a senior police officer working with gender violence issues, the Sierra Leone Police forensic capacity assessment of January 2016 constituted the framework for establishing a forensic laboratory as it highlighted challenges and necessary work.  The forensic capacity assessment was never publicized; a hard copy was given to the researcher. However, the IRM midterm report noted that the forensic capacity assessment was done before the action plan was developed.
Milestone 3: According to officials of both the Campaign for Good Governance, and the Youth and Child Advocacy Network (two nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) active in gender violence issues), no forensic laboratory was established.  According to a senior police officer who was the head of the Family Support Unit, work on a forensic laboratory stalled due to funding. 
Milestone 4: An official from the Youth and Child Advocacy Network and the Campaign for Good Governance confirmed that an online directory of sexual offenders was not established. According to members of the Steering Committee, there was no discussion or decision to have an online directory of sexual offenders; they did not know how the milestone came to be part of the commitment. 
Did it open government?
Access to information: Did not change
Although gender-based sexual violence is a major problem in Sierra Leone, citizens generally lack quantitative information regarding its extent and details, such as the age and gender of victims and offenders, public profiles of offenders, and other information that may help protect the public. The publication of this information aimed to help individuals and communities better protect themselves. However, implementation of this commitment did not change the amount or quality of information citizens receive. Firstly, 2016 data on sexual offences was produced by the police as an internal document, and not half-yearly and online as required by the commitment.  In 2018, the police published online the 2017 and 2018 Annual Crimes Statistics reports. However, all three annual reports contained only national and regional data; they did not include the age or gender of victims and offenders, relevant offender profiles, or other details that would be useful to guide citizens’ advocacy and other actions. Child rights advocates claim the report was not promoted to the public.  According to the police, annual crime statistics have always been produced by the police offline, as an internal document. Civil society leaders suggested that the lack of promotion and detail in the report hindered its usefulness to advocates. 
The government had not released the third action plan at the time of this report. This commitment should be carried forward into the next action plan, focusing on increasing women’s ability to report sexual violence via low technology telephone applications. The information gathered could then be analyzed by the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police, noting incidences per district, ongoing prosecutions, and concluded cases; this could then be disclosed periodically to the public. An officer at the Campaign for Good Governance agreed that this recommendation would improve sexual violence data. All the civil society leaders interviewed by the researcher said the milestone of an online sexual offenders’ registry is not a priority, and should be abandoned. 
 Sierra Leone Police, Sierra Leone Police Forensic Capability Assessment (Jan. 2016) (given to the IRM researcher by the head of Gender and Hospitality in the Sierra Leone Police. The report is not available online).
 Charlie Hughes, Sierra Leone Mid-Term Report 2016-2018 (OGP, 9 Jul. 2018), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/sierra-leone-mid-term-report-2016-2018-year-1/.
 Mira Koroma (Police Superintendent, former head of Family Support Unit, and Local Unit Commander), interview with IRM researcher, 5 Apr. 2019.
 Bernadette French (Gender Programmer Officer, Campaign for Good Governance) and Hassan Fouad Kanu (Executive Director, Youth and Child Advocacy Network), interview with IRM researcher, 9 Aug. 2018.
 Mira Koroma (Police Superintendent, former head of Family Support Unit, and Local Unit Commander), interview with IRM researcher, 17 Aug. 2018.
 French and Kanu, interview.
 Sierra Leone Police, Sierra Leone Police Annual Crime Statistics Report (2016), (viewed by the IRM researcher on a police headquarters’ computer by permission of the Director of Gender and Hospitality on 15 Oct. 2017).
 Charles Kamara (Education for All Foundation) and Marcella Samba-Sesay (Campaign for Good Governance), interview with IRM researcher, 14 May 2019.
 Kamara and Samba-Sesay, interview.
 Those interviewed were Bernadette French and Marcella Samba-Sesay of Campaign for Good Governance; Charles Kamara of Education for All Foundation; and Fouad Kanu of Youth and Child Advocacy Network.
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Tax System Transparency
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Foreign Aid Transparency
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Right to Access Information Law
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