- Mohamed Osman Kamara
1.1 What is the total population of Sierra Leone?
The recent 2015 population and housing census in Sierra Leone placed the total population of persons with or without disabilities of all ages at 7,076,119 . Of this figure, the total number of persons with disabilities was placed at 93,129 . This represents 1.3 per cent of the country’s total population.
1.2 Describe the methodology used to obtain the statistical data on the prevalence of disability in Sierra Leone. What criteria are used to determine who falls within the class of persons with disabilities in Sierra Leone?
The statistical data for this report on the prevalence of disability in Sierra Leone were primarily obtained from the 2015 Population and Housing Census.
1.3 What is the total number and percentage of persons with disabilities in Sierra Leone?
The 2015 population and housing census in Sierra Leone placed the total population of persons with disabilities at 93,129 which represents 1.3 per cent of the country’s total population. This indicates a decline compared to the data from the 2004 census, which indicated a disability prevalence of 2.4 percent.
1.4 What is the total number and percentage of women with disabilities in Sierra Leone?
According to the 2015 PHC, the total number of women with disabilities in Sierra Leone is 42,810 (46 per cent). This accounts for 1 per cent of the total female population of 3,596,486 .
1.5 What is the total number and percentage of children with disabilities in Sierra Leone?
In line with the Sierra Leone Population and Housing Census Thematic Report on Children, Adolescents and Youth of 2015, 9,837 of children between the ages of 0-9 years were reported to have one form of disability which accounted for 11 percent of the total number of persons with disabilities in Sierra Leone.
1.6 What are the most prevalent forms of disability and/or peculiarities to disability in Sierra Leone?
A look at the different types of disability as stated in the 2015 Population and Housing Census shows that : the highest number of persons with disabilities (21.8 per cent) have a physical disability (polio). Persons who are partially sighted account for 15.2 per cent of the total. While those who are blind or visually impaired account for 12.5 per cent. Albinism (0.5 per cent) is the least common type of disability in the country. Disease or illness is the major cause of disability among the country’s disabled population, accounting for 40.5 per cent of cases. This is followed by congenital disability (16.2 per cent), other non-specified causes (10.5 per cent), accidents (8.8 percent) and natural ageing (8.1 per cent). Other causes of disability, including traffic accidents, occupational injuries, injury sustained in the war, and non-specific injuries, each accounted for less than 5 per cent of the total number of persons with disabilities .
2.1 What is the status of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Sierra Leone? Did Sierra Leone sign and ratify the CRPD? Provide the date(s).
Sierra Leone has not ratified the Optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities .
2.2 If Sierra Leone has signed and ratified the CRPD, when was its country report due? Which government department is responsible for submission of the report? Did Sierra Leone submit its report? If so, and if the report has been considered, indicate if there was a domestic effect of this reporting process. If not, what reasons does the relevant
Government department give for the delay?
The state report of Sierra Leone to the CRPD Committee was due on 4 November 2012. However, at the date of concluding the country report in December 2018, Sierra Leone has not submit its report to the CRPD committee. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs is the government department in charge of issues around disability rights.
2.4 Was there any domestic effect on Sierra Leone’s legal system after ratifying the international or regional instruments in 2.3 above? Does the international or regional instrument that has been ratified require Sierra Leone’s legislature to incorporate it into the legal system before the instrument can have force in Sierra Leone’s domestic law? Have Sierra Leone’s courts ever considered this question? If so, cite the case(s).
With respect to court cases, at the time of conducting this research November-December, 2018, no court case directly relating to disability issue/rights in Sierra Leone has been independently confirmed. However, two Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone have filed a lawsuit at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria, accusing the government of mismanaging funds during an epidemic that killed more than 3,000 people and left others with disability related complications in the West African nation .
5.1 Have the courts (or tribunals) in Sierra Leone ever decided on an issue(s) relating to disability? If so, list the cases and provide a summary for each of the cases with the facts, the decision(s) and the reasoning.
At the time of collecting data for the compilation of this part of the report (November- December 2018), no court case directly relating to disability issue/rights in Sierra Leone has been independently confirmed. However, The NCPD had intervened in series of cases of violation of the rights of persons with disabilities. The Commission succeeded in negotiating compensation for a 16 year boy who lost one of his legs due to reckless attitude of a bus driver. The Commission also intervened and took a group of persons to police for assaulting a female living with disability at the Hill Station Community .
7.2 Other than the ordinary courts or tribunals, does Sierra Leone have any official body that though not established to specifically address violations of the rights of persons with disabilities, can nonetheless do so? If so, describe the body, its functions and its powers.
At the regional level, the ECOWAS support the country in addressing violations of human rights, the rights of persons with disabilities etc. The Community Court of Justice was created pursuant to the provisions of Articles 6 and 15 of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Its Organisational framework, functioning mechanism, powers, and procedure applicable before it are set out in Protocol A/P1/7/91 of 6 July 1991, Supplementary Protocol A/SP.1/01/05 of 19 January 2005, Supplementary Protocol A/SP.2/06/06 of 14 June 2006, Regulation of 3 June 2002, and Supplementary Regulation C/REG.2/06/06 of 13 June 2006 .
8.2 Does Sierra Leone have a Human Rights Commission, an Ombudsman or Public Protector? If so, does its remit include the promotion and protection of the rights of people with disabilities? If your answer is yes, also indicate whether the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman or Public Protector of Sierra Leone has ever addressed issues relating to the rights of persons with disabilities.
In 2018 the Different Abilities and Non-Discrimination Officer of the Human Rights Commission (DANDO) together with the National Election Commission Sierra Leonean, DPOs and partners succeeded in pushing for political inclusion in elections through the Disability Policy (NECDiP) which provides strategies and tools for strengthening the participation of persons with disabilities in electoral processes. This saw the re-introduction of the tactile voting system in the 2018 elections .
9.1 Does Sierra Leone have organisations that represent and advocate for the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities? If so, list each organisation and describe its activities.
The undermentioned are an addendum to the previous list of DPOs advocating for the rights of PWDs in Sierra Leone:
SWS is the national umbrella body of Social Workers which promote and influence the interest of less privileged and social work professionals through social service support, trainings, field work and supervision, including PWDs in Sierra Leone. SWS is currently implementing weekly street feeding and psychosocial counselling for the homeless, persons with intellectual/psychological and other disabilities.
Street Child Sierra Leone (SCoSL) is a unique national NGO working in the areas of education, social/child protection and livelihoods in every district of Sierra Leone. SCoSL began as an organization during the 1990s, working with children directly affected by the country’s brutal civil war. (SCoSL) is working with its international partners including Street Child UK to expand its excellent social/child protection and education projects for street children, PWDs to build livelihoods programmes, and to work to improve the standard of education in remote rural areas of the country.
9.3 If Sierra Leone has ratified the CRPD, how has it ensured the involvement of DPOs in the implementation process?
DPOs and PWDs were crucial in in the constitutional review process, which is a way the country has ensured inclusive participation of DPOs and PWDs in the national consultation/ implementation process of national issues as stated in Article 3(1)(c) & (d) of the Disability Act.
9.4 What types of actions have DPOs themselves taken to ensure that they are fully embedded in the process of implementation?
DPOs have been active through several actions to ensure their involvement in the implementation process of the CRPD and key national issues through lobbying, advocacy and providing assistance to the government on disability issues. For instance, in 2018 the DPOs together with the Different Abilities and Non-Discrimination Officer of the Human Rights Commission (DANDO) and the National Election Commission Sierra Leonean succeeded in pushing for political inclusion in elections through the Disability Policy (NECDiP) which provides strategies and tools for strengthening the participation of persons with disabilities in electoral processes. This saw the re-introduction of the tactile voting system in the 2018 elections . DPOs also through the commission has engaged the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) on the establishment of the medical board as provided for in section 7(1)a. Meanwhile, even though the medical board has not been established, the Chief Medical Officer at the MoHS has issued a Directive to all District Medical Officials (DMOs) to give medical services to persons with disability free of charge .
9.5 What, if any, are the barriers DPOs have faced in engaging with implementation?
In addition to finance related challenge, inadequate institutional capacity for advocacy, lobbying and influencing issues/policies in their favour is a major barrier DPOs are faced with. In a meeting with the president of SLUDI in November, 2018, he stated the need for “capacity building and financial support to DPOs to facilitate effective programme development, implementation and advocacy activities across the country” .
9.7 Are there any specific outcomes regarding successful implementation and/or improved recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities that resulted from the engagement of DPOs in the implementation process?
Apart from the outcomes reported in the previous report, there have been successful outcomes that resulted from the engagement of PWDs and DPOs in the constitutional review process. That singular opportunity was well utilized by the PWDs as seen in their wishes and aspirations for the reviewed constitution .
9.8 Has your research shown areas for capacity building and support (particularly in relation to research) for DPOs with respect to their engagement with the implementation process?
There is the need for capacity building in the area of legal research to support in ensuring that DPOs engage in the review and amendment process of the Disability Act and other legal instruments, which reflects the recommendations in the constitutional review and the CRPD. Involving DPOs throughout national policy formation cycle and in interest based research process from start will lead to better outcomes and will help DPOs participation in decision-making processes and in all stages and will improve the quality of national data by reducing the risk of excluding groups of interest.
9.9 Are there recommendations that come out of your research as to how DPOs might be more comprehensively empowered to take a leading role in the implementation processes of international or regional instruments?
It is important that PWDs are given institutional capacity building to robustly advocate for specific issues affecting PWDs in Sierra Leone. Institutionally, the 5% affirmative allocation of a quota for PWDs in parliament should be implemented. “We need an inclusive governance, because if we are not in governance our issues won’t be addressed as it should” SLUDI president stated .
11.1 Describe the contemporary challenges of persons with disabilities, and the legal responses thereto, and assess the adequacy of these responses to:
In addition to lack of basic standard of living, food and access to information PWDs are also faced with other key challenges, thus, include: inadequate access to free health care service, educational opportunities and unfavourable cultural beliefs are difficult are also issues of concern. SLUDI president succinctly stated “We are often constrained by lack of access to the free health care package; and the Disability Act of 2011 gives provisions for all persons with disability to have free medical service in the country; but over six years later, this is yet to be realized… DPOs have raised concerns about this issue and other areas of concern, but when you talk about discrimination and marginalization, people living with disabilities are suffering the most in this country,” he said. “We as a union have been fighting for this ,” he added.
11.2 Do people with disabilities have a right to participation in political life (political representation and leadership) in Sierra Leone?
In addition to the previous report on the above, the CRC has recommended for 5% affirmative political reservation for persons with disability in the constitution . In 2018 PWDs were given equal opportunity and political inclusion in elections through the Disability Policy which created the enabling environment for strengthening the participation of persons with disabilities in electoral processes . This saw the re-introduction of the tactile voting system in the 2018 elections . The human rights commission has also created, a Disability Desk as a way of creating equal electoral opportunities for persons with disabilities, in order to enhance their full participation in the electoral processes. Today, this Disability Desk has been transformed into a performing Unit within the NEC referred to as the Gender and Disability Unit (GDU). The GDU has taken the lead role in addressing electoral issues affecting persons with disabilities. This Unit seeks to address pressing issues with efforts to promote the electoral rights of persons with disabilities. Voting gives people with disabilities a stronger political voice and people with disabilities who vote in elections show the public that they are equal citizens .
12.1 Are there any specific measures with regard to persons with disabilities being debated or considered in Sierra Leone at the moment?
DPOs in Sierra Leone has also demanded for the implementation of the 5% affirmative allocation of a quota for PWDs in parliament and other important national institutions, the full implementation of the “extension of the Free Health Care policy” to persons with disability without any iota of discrimination and the establishment of the medical board as provided for in section 7(1)a , the implantation of the free and compulsory education for all persons with disability and a presidential adviser at State House must all be guaranteed in the Constitution.
12.2 What legal reforms would you like to see in Sierra Leone? Why?In addition to the “ambiguity of discrimination” in Article 27(3) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, the research is suggesting a review of the Disability Act of 2011 to factor women and children’s issues in to the revised act. These legal reform is relevant for the adequate protection of disadvantaged groups and also in line with the obligation of Sierra Leone.
Statistics Sierra Leone 2015 population and housing census reports.https://www.statistics.sl/images/StatisticsSL/Documents/final-results_-2015_population_and_housing_census.pdf (accessed 20th November, 2018).
Sierra Leone Population and Housing Census Thematic Reports on Disability https://sierraleone.unfpa.org/en/publications/sierra-leone-2015-population-and-housing-census-national-analytical-report.pdf (accessed 20th November, 2018).
Sierra Leone 2015 Population and Housing Census Thematic Report on Children, Adolescents and Youth https://sierraleone.unfpa.org/en/publications/sierra-leone-2015-population-and-housing-census-thematic-report-children-adolescents.pdf (accessed 4th December, 2018).
Ebola Survivors, Centre For Accountability And Rule Of Law File A Human Rights Violation Complaint In The ECOWAS Court Against The Republic Of Sierra Leone http://www.carl-sl.org/ebola-survivors-centre-for-accountability-and-rule-of-law-file-a-human-rights-violation-complaint-in-the-ecowas-court-against-the-republic-of-sierra-leone/ (accessed 9th December, 2018).
James T. Cullen, Chairman, National Commission for Persons with Disability Sierra Leone (November, 2018).
*See also Human Commission Thematic Reports on Persons with Disability in Sierra Leone 2017, p14.
Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Committee Monthly newsletter, January and February 2015 https://constitutionalreviewblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/2015_january_edition1.pdf. (accessed December, 2018)
Sierra Leone: Disable union calls for appointments to top positions -APA News KC/abj/APAhttp://apanews.net/en/news/sierra-leone-disable-union-calls-for-appointments-to-top-positions (accessed 4th December, 2018).
The Carter Center March 7, 2018 Presidential And Parliamentary Elections
In Sierra Leone. Final Report. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/sierra-leone-report-032318.pdf(accessed 8th December, 2018)