Geneva, Switzerland: The International Human Rights Law Clinic participated in the UN Human Rights Committee’s review of Sierra Leone’s commitment to implementing its obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on March 11th-12th. In preparation for the State’s first review, clinic students Diana Navas and Jacqueline Zamarripa, under the supervision of Practitioner in Residence Shana Tabak, worked with several Sierra Leonean organizations to prepare a collaborative shadow report on the violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Sierra Leone. The shadow report can be found online here.
While in Geneva, Navas and Zamarripa met one of their Sierra Leonean partners for the very first time. Together, they participated in an informal meeting with Committee members and also gave a formal oral presentation on the contents of their shadow report.
During the two-day review, the Committee expressed serious concerns about a wide range of issues occurring throughout Sierra Leone. Despite the absence of Sierra Leone’s delegation to properly address each concern, civil society organizations discussed the appalling prison conditions, the widening impunity gap for security officers accused of unlawful killings, the lack of diversity of the Constitutional Review Committee, the failure of the state to abolish the death penalty, and the violence perpetrated against persons on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The review focused extensively on civil and political rights, and served as an eye opener to the progress Sierra Leone has made as well as the significant challenges that persist in addressing these rights.
Text and pictures courtesy of Diana Navas and Jacqueline Zamarripa.