Multi-stakeholders Dialogue on UPR implementaion in Sierra Leone
On 3-4 August UPR Info implemented, together with national partner organisations, the Multi-stakeholders Dialogue on Effective Implementation of UPR recommendations. The chief objective of the meeting was to bring together the government and CSOs to establish an incentive for a joint implementation process. On 3 August, government officials and CSOs participated in two parallel meetings in order to prepare for the dialogue phase the following day. CSOs were provided with a session on the modalities and civil society entry points of the UPR which refreshed the knowledge among CSOs who participated in the CSO strategy workshop in April 2016 and ensured that new participants benefitted from the same information. Prior to a well-deserved lunch break, participants went through all the recommendations Sierra Leone received during its 2nd UPR cycle. This was the first time that several of them were made aware of which recommendations the government had accepted vis–à–vis noted. The second half of the day was devoted to fine-tuning the thematic presentations that CSOs were to deliver during the dialogue day. Anchored in the action strategies and implementation plans drafted during the April workshop, CSOs took the opportunity to strengthen their indicators geared towards measure follow-up and discussed key actors to partner with in the implementation process. In parallel, government officials from a wide range of ministries, departments, and agencies engaged in an interactive training session on how the state-driven peer-review UPR mechanism functions and their role in ensuring efficient implementation. The majority of the government representatives had not previously been exposed to the UPR which made this a timely exercise.
The dialogue day commenced with UPR Info providing a briefing on why S.M.A.R.T. indicators are crucial for successful follow-up and implementation of recommendations. This was followed by an intervention from the Senior Human Rights Adviser of OHCHR in Sierra Leone who emphasised the need for the state to lead the implementation process while ensuring that CSOs and the NHRI had ample space to actively support the realisation of UPR recommendations. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to an interactive dialogue on implementation. Topics discussed included universal basic education, child labour, de-stigmatisation of Ebola survivors, torture in prisons, the right to a speedy trial, access to water, and many more. It was evident that this exercise addressed the information gap between the government and CSOs that has previously hampered awareness raising on the UPR in Sierra Leone. The Government seized the opportunity to inform those present about recent initiatives that would tap into the implementation process of specific recommendations and provided CSOs with instructions on who they should contact within their respective ministries to extract updated information. At the end of the day a Letter of Cooperation was drafted that sets out the principles that will govern the cooperation between the government and CSOs in the implementation period. This letter will be finalised in the coming weeks.
At the margins of the event UPR Info organised, together with the National Human Rights Institution, the first ever full-day UPR training for the media in Sierra Leone. 25 journalists participated and agreed to take steps towards establishing a Human Rights Network of Journalists to facilitate coordinated reporting on the UPR. Finally a roundtable session between CSOs and the diplomatic community was arranged. The meeting showcased how partnering with CSOs throughout the five-year UPR cycle will improve the realisation of recommendations coming from states’ capitals. Hosted at the EU Delegation, the meeting brought together representatives from the EU Delegation, diplomats from six states, and civil society.
The Outcome Report will soon be made available.