International Human Rights Day Celebrated in Sierra Leone
Every year the celebration of International Human Rights day observed on 10th December provides the opportunity to raise global awareness on human rights issues.
As a national human rights institution, the Human Rights Commission Sierra Leone (HRCSL) in collaboration with its local and international partners, joined hands to celebrates this day with the theme ‘Inclusion and the right to participate in public life’.
The theme for this year’s celebration is drawn from Articles 19,20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which speaks of the right to freedom of expression and opinion, the right to freedom of assembly and association, and the right to vote and be voted for, either directly or through freely chosen representatives, the role of public participation in economic and human development was enshrined in the 1990 African Charter for popular participation in development and transformation.
Generally public participation facilitates the involvement to those potentially affected or interested in a decision, the principle of public participation holds that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision making process, public participation implies that the public contribution should influence the decision.
The aim of this year’s celebration is increasing public awareness on their right to participate in decision making and public life, to identify vulnerable minority groups and ensure that they are fully involved and to launch a campaign on the promotion of inclusion and right to participate in public life. Also to ensure that key vulnerable minority groups are able to express their concerns that may impact their inclusion and right to participate in public life, ensures that all political actors and other stakeholders are sensitized about the state of vulnerable minority groups, increase awareness on structures and put mechanic in place for the full participation of vulnerable minority groups in government and decision making.
Fulfillment of the right to participate in public life is critical to the function of a democracy and an effective human rights protection system, inclusion of all those who have been traditionally discriminated against is an essential precondition to the achievement of both.
Discrimination has been prohibited in the international, regional and national instruments that deal with most if not all situations in which minority or vulnerable groups and their individual members may be denied equality of treatment non discrimination prevision are contained in the UN charter Articles 1 and 55, the (UDHR) Articles 2, the (ICCPR), and (ECSOCR) Articles2. However exclusion and discrimination continue to affect minorities in a negative manner politically socially culturally or economically for instance the persistence of discrimination on minority and vulnerable groups such as the elderly persons with different sexual orientation, mentally disturbed person, commercial sex workers, persons living with HIV and Aids, persons with disabilities could be a major source of tension in many parts of the world.
It is against this backdrop that HRCSL in collaboration with its partners have devoted this years celebrations to raise awareness and promote the concerns of vulnerable minority groups in sierra Leone, the celebration will be observed nationwide in the form of outreach and public education programs to promote inclusion and non-discrimination in public life.
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