Second DHRC National Consultative Conference and training takes place in Bo
On the 24 to 27 May 2011 the Second National Consultative Conference for District Human Rights Committees (DHRC) was jointly organized in Bo by the Human Rights Section of UNIPSIL and the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL). The Conference gathered 50 participants from all 13 DHRCs as well as members of the Regional Offices of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone.
The Conference was an opportunity to asses progress made by DHRCs in
mobilization of resources and implementation of the 2009 strategic plan, find out ways to effectively strengthen networks between committees and explore ways and means to expand human rights monitoring and reporting at the community level. The conference also aimed at evolving consensus on common strategy of the Committees in responding to human rights issues and in strengthening their capacity. Finally, the meeting resolved to strengthen collaboration between the HRCSL and DHRCs and concretized strategies and collaboration mechanisms through a Communiqué and a strategy document. They also called on UNIPSIL HRS to strengthen these collaboration efforts during the remaining time of its presence in Sierra Leone
In 2009 a national consultative meeting was organised for Human Rights Committees in all 13 districts. One of the outcomes of this meeting was the adoption of a strategic plan. Discussions were also held around the challenges
of the HRCs. Principal amongst the challenges identified was the capacity gaps in effectively performing its monitoring and advocacy role. As a result series of trainings were organised for HRCs in 2009 and 2010.
UNIPSIL HRS in collaboration with the HRCSL established Human Rights Committees in all 13 districts in Sierra Leone. This intervention is to support the HRCSL meet its mandate of mobilizing civil society organizations in the protection and promotion of human rights by building their capacity and through collaboration. The District Human Rights Committees are a coalition of Civil Society Organisations working on human rights related issues. DHRCs complement the work of both UNIPSIL HRS and the HRCSL by ensuring human rights monitoring and advocacy filters right down to the community level. The presence of the UNIPSIL HRS and HRCSL is limited to the Regional Headquarters.
The Conference was combined with trainings in Human Rights Monitoring of Elections and treaty body shadow
reporting and interaction with special mechanisms. This was to equip DHRCs to effectively monitor human rights in the upcoming elections and capacitate CSOs involvement in human rights treaty body reporting. In the reporting process to human rights treaty bodies, there is an opportunity for civil society to submit independent information to the respective UN treaty monitoring bodies. Participants were therefore trained to monitor compliance by the State with its reporting obligations, provide information to the national reporting process, submit separate written reports (shadow reports) and material to human rights treaty bodies, participate in treaty body sessions and follow up on treaty bodies' concluding observations. This training comes at a time in which UNIPSIL Human Rights Section is also providing technical support to the Human Rights Secretariat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the area of treaty reporting.