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Sierra Leone

Gender (SL0012)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sierra Leone National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

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 Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Gender, Health, Marginalized Communities, Public Service Delivery, Records Management, Security

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sierra Leone Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

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.
Main objective
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 Midterm Status Summary

1. Gender-Sexual Violence Against Women

Commitment Text:

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.

Milestones: 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

Supporting institution(s): Police, Judiciary, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Campaign for Good Governance, Rainbow Center, AdvoAid, United for Humanity, Network Movement for Youth and Children Welfare

Start date: July 2016 End date: June 2018

Context and Objectives

Gender-based violence remains endemic in Sierra Leone, contributing to women’s economic, social and political disempowerment. Impunity for offenders is perpetuated through economic issues and a general unwillingness to report crimes.[Note50: Country Report on Human Rights Practices, Sierra Leone, U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper] The Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Sierra Leone Police is the government institution responsible for dealing with issues related to sexual and gender-based violence. FSU is faced with several challenges including limited funding, insufficient staff and lack of institutional infrastructure for forensic tests.[Note51: Assessing the Family Support Unit 2016 Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, http://www.carl-sl.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FSU%20REPORT%20PDF.pdf ] According to one report major challenges faced in the country are the weaknesses in the investigative and forensic capacities of law enforcement agencies to speedily and successfully investigate and prosecute sexual offences.[Note52: Sierra Leone Police Forensic Capability Assessment, January 2016, and given to researcher by head of Gender and Hospitality in the Sierra Leone Police. The report is not available online.] In addition to the forensic and law enforcement issues, there is no gender-based violence data available to the public apart from an annual report publishing the number of incidences. This commitment aims to carry out activities that support the prosecution of offenders.

The online directory of sexual convict data will mark the first set of public data available on individuals who have committed gender-based violence, therefore this commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information. The commitment has a moderate potential impact given that it could support capturing and prosecuting sexual offences. It could also serve as a deterrent and minimise the occurrence of sexual offences. However, data alone would not necessarily provide a transformational change.

Completion

This commitment is limited in completion. FSU published an annual report on sexual violence incidences for 2016, but has not increased publication to a half-annual basis in 2017. Despite internal efforts at summarising data quarterly, the citizens’ report has not been published more than once a year. The Director of Gender Affairs in the Sierra Leone Police did not specify a particular barrier, except that they would be willing to publish more frequently if resources permitted.[Note53: IRM researcher’s interview of Director of Gender Affairs and Hospitality, 15 October 2017.] The forensic capacity assessment listed as one of the milestones in the commitments had already been published, in January 2016, prior to the start of the current action plan.[Note54: Assessing the Family Support Unit 2016 Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, http://www.carl-sl.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FSU%20REPORT%20PDF.pdf ]

Work on setting up the forensic lab has not begun. According to the head of the department responsible for gender issues, there were no funds to establish the forensic lab.[Note55: IRM researcher’s interview of Director of Gender Affairs and Hospitality, 15 October 2017.] There has been limited progress in developing the online directory of sexual offenders. The head of the department in the Police responsible for the commitment confirmed that the Information Communication Technology staff working on sexual violence in the department received some initial training. However, there is an internal concern about legal implications and possible infringements of sexual offender rights before publishing this information.[Note56: IRM researcher’s interview of Director of Gender Affairs and Hospitality, 15 October 2017.]

Next Steps

The IRM researcher recommends to carry this commitment over into the next action plan in a modified form. The development of the forensic lab is not relevant to OGP values and while this is an important milestone, it can continue outside of the OGP framework. As outlined in the commitment, the responsible department in the Police should release sexual offences information to the public at more regular intervals rather than through the yearly Police report. The Police and civil society organisations need to consider how privacy infringement could be addressed to continue developing the online offender directory.


Sierra Leone's Commitments

  1. Gender

    SL0012, 2016, Capacity Building

  2. Foriegn Aid Transparency

    SL0013, 2016, Aid

  3. Waste Management

    SL0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  4. Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget

    SL0015, 2016, E-Government

  5. Audit Report

    SL0016, 2016, Audits and Controls

  6. Climate Change

    SL0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  7. Elections

    SL0018, 2016, E-Government

  8. Record Archive Management

    SL0019, 2016, E-Government

  9. Access to Justice

    SL0020, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Open Public Procurement Contracting

    SL0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  11. Publish and Revise 70% of Mining and Agricultural Lease Agreements and Contracts

    SL0009, 2014, E-Government

  12. Starred commitment Right to Access Information Law

    SL0010, 2014, Capacity Building

  13. Open Data Portal for Transparency in Fiscal and Extractive Transactions

    SL0011, 2014, E-Government

  14. Public Integrity Pact with 5 Ministries, Departments, and Agencies

    SL0001, 2014, Conflicts of Interest

  15. Archives and Records Management Act

    SL0002, 2014, E-Government

  16. Scale Up Performance Management and Service Delivery Directorate

    SL0003, 2014, Public Participation

  17. Compliance with Audit Measures

    SL0004, 2014, Audits and Controls

  18. Starred commitment Single Treasure Account

    SL0005, 2014, Extractive Industries

  19. Extractive Industry Revenue Act

    SL0006, 2014, Extractive Industries

  20. Scaling Up Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives

    SL0007, 2014, Extractive Industries

  21. Local Content Policy (LCP) Linkages with MDAs

    SL0008, 2014, Capacity Building