October 2, 2022

By Donstance Koroma

The Port Loko Human Right Committee PLHRC have and continues to suffer a mountain of challenges in the region and its environs in ensuring that the protection and promotion of the fundamental human rights for all categories of people are achieved.

According to investigation, the lack of funds to carry out their tasks on time is a key debilitating factor, as they find it difficult to raise revenue from Committee members to carry out urgent interventions.

It was also revealed that the lack of mobility is one factor that had and continues to hinder their operations, as the motorbikes the Committee is using to carry out their activities are owned by various organizations. Therefore the Committee’s operations are most times affected if those organizations have activities to implement.

It was also revealed that the push and pull, between the PLHRC and the doctors at the Port Loko Government hospital with regards medical examination for victims of rape and sexual penetration, stands as a stumbling block.

The delay by State counsels to proffer legal advice on critical cases, as victims most times loses interest in the case because they lack the financial strength to follow up on their cases in Makeni. The Committee is therefore lobbying for Port Loko, being a regional headquarters, to have its own State counsel.

Interventions of the Committee include awareness and sensitization of the negative effect of SGBV, monitoring and documenting reports on abuses of inmates in detention centers and court proceedings. The organization had and continues to facilitate community acceptance of victims of SGBV.

The Port Loko Human Right Committee (PLHRC) came into existence in June 2008. A group of likeminded organizations, for the protection and promotion of the fundamental human rights for all categories of people, set it up.

The idea for its establishment was initiated by officials of the then United Nations Peace Building in Sierra Leone, with the objective of strategically positioning the interventions of all organizations working for the protection of human rights.

The PLHRC is registered with the Port Loko District Council, and it has a membership of 22 from various organizations.

During their years of existence, the Committee had retrieved children from both marital homes and sowei bushes, and ensured that they go back to school and payment of fees for medical examination for victims of rape.

A 13 year girl, from Makama village in Kambia, was prevented by the organization after intelligence met them that one of the brilliant girls in the above mentioned village, who was close to taking her National Primary School Exam (NPSE), because her parents are preparing for a big marriage ceremony.

PLHRC intervened and prevented the ceremony from happening, until the Sierra Leone Police arrested the parents and brought them to Port Loko for investigation and interrogation. The proposed husband and relatives took to their heels in nearby bushes.

Another case in point was when a foreign national permanently harbored a 13 year old girl. The Committee ensured that the foreign national was arrested, investigated and charged to court.

In the first appearance, in court, the foreign national was remanded for two days at the Male Correctional Center. The matter was thrown out of court because the parents, that were supposed to proffer evidence, boycotted the court proceedings.

The parents were against the PLHRC because they were of the view that the organization wanted to destroy the future of their daughter, because a white man wanted to marry their daughter, but the Committee wants to stand as hindrance in the name of human rights abuse.

Upon the expiration of the mandate of the United Nationals Peace Building, in the country, all Human Rights Committees nationwide were officially handed over to the Human Rights Committee of Sierra Leone.