All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 8 No 4

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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East London



Fourth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in
Sierra Leone

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1886
(2009), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on
the activities of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone
(UNIPSIL) every six months. The report covers the period from 1 September 2009
to 28 February 2010.

II. Major developments

A. Political developments

2. The political situation in the country remained calm during the reporting
period. On 9 October 2009, at the State opening of the third session of Parliament,
the President, Ernest Bai Koroma, elaborated on the progress made by his
Government, including in the areas of infrastructure development, education and
agriculture. In a New Year message to the country, the President referred to the
economic challenges facing Sierra Leone and called on Sierra Leoneans to renew
their determination to overcome the country’s difficulties.

3. During the reporting period, 37 paramount chieftaincy elections were held in
the country. Those elections were significant, given the crucial role traditional
authorities play in local administration. The recently enacted Chieftaincy Act of
2009 provided an improved legal framework for the elections. Moreover, the
participation of representatives of rural communities in the elections of their
paramount chiefs underlined the continuing development of democratic tendencies
at all levels in Sierra Leone.

4. While the elections were peaceful and credible overall, election observers
highlighted some difficulties in the process, including uneven interpretation or
insufficient knowledge of the Chieftaincy Act; interference in the electoral processes
by political parties or surrogates contrary to the applicable legislation; and the
inability of women to stand as candidates in some parts of the country, owing to
cultural stipulations and conflicting interpretations of the 1991 Constitution.

5. The implementation of the joint communiqué signed on 2 April by the major
opposition party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), and the ruling All
People’s Congress (APC) continued in the period under review. The Peacebuilding
Fund provided vital financial support for the implementation of the joint

6. In collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
and the Political Parties Registration Commission, UNIPSIL continued its wellreceived
grass-roots sensitization campaign on the essential messages of the joint
communiqué, through the use of dramatic sketches and radio programmes in all 149
chiefdoms of the country. The Joint Communiqué Adherence Committee,
comprising APC, SLPP, the Sierra Leone police and the Inter-Religious Council of
Sierra Leone and co-chaired by the Political Parties Registration Commission and
UNIPSIL, met within the reporting period and reviewed progress in the
implementation of the communiqué.

7. The Commission of Inquiry established pursuant to the joint communiqué
completed its investigation of alleged acts of rape and sexual violence reported to
have occurred during attacks on the SLPP offices in Freetown on 16 March 2009.
The Commission stated that after a thorough consideration of the law governing
rape and indecent assault and based on the testimonies received, there was no
evidence to sustain the allegations of rape. The Commission nonetheless found that
the victims had been subjected to physical mistreatment and other inhumane
conduct that constituted a breach of their human rights under the Constitution. It
called on the Government to take steps, as a matter of social justice, to address the
needs of the victims. SLPP strongly criticized the findings of the Commission and
threatened to initiate legal proceedings to challenge them.

8. On 29 September, President Koroma appointed an Independent Review Panel,
as stipulated in the joint communiqué, to inquire into the causes of the political
violence of March 2009. The Panel began its proceedings on 15 February 2010. As
had been the case with regard to the Commission of Inquiry to investigate the
reported incidents of sexual violence, the members of the Independent Review Panel
were selected by President Koroma from a list of nominees proposed by SLPP and
APC. Technical and financial support for the work of the Panel is being made
available by UNIPSIL, UNDP and the Peacebuilding Fund. The Panel has invited
testimony from all political parties, the country’s democratic institutions, the police
and Government officials.

9. In December 2009, UNIPSIL, in collaboration with UNDP and the Political
Parties Registration Commission, organized intra-party retreats for SLPP, APC and
the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC). The retreats focused on
leadership training for senior members of the political parties and provided an
opportunity for the parties to strengthen their internal democratic mechanisms.
Within the same period, separate meetings of the women’s wings of APC, SLPP and
PMDC were arranged by UNIPSIL, UNDP and the Commission to consider ways of
improving the representation of women in the national political institutions.

10. The intra-party retreats having concluded, a national inter-party dialogue to
further promote confidence among the political parties will be organized by
UNIPSIL and the Political Parties Registration Commission in April 2010. As part
of the implementation of the joint communiqué, the political party youth outreach
programme, focusing on political tolerance and non-violence, was completed in
14 districts, including the western area of the country. Similar programmes are
planned for the coming months.

11. Other efforts to implement the joint communiqué, including through the
establishment of a resource centre for political parties, are ongoing. In order to build
confidence and promote reconciliation, financial assistance for the repair of the
damaged SLPP offices in Freetown was made available by the Peacebuilding Fund,
with the approval of the Government, and work on the building has commenced.
12. Despite those initiatives, the relationship between the ruling party and the
major opposition party continues to be characterized by deep mistrust and mutual
suspicion. In that regard, although there has been an improvement in the overall
political situation, formidable difficulties remain in fostering a culture of political
tolerance. In addition to instances of violence during the chieftaincy elections, there
were fierce clashes between APC and SLPP supporters during a local council byelection
held in Tongo, Kenema District, on 13 February 2010.
13. With regard to the review of the 1991 Constitution, no action has been taken
by the Government on the report submitted by the Constitutional Review
Commission. Given the importance of the constitutional review process for the
consolidation of the democratic foundations of the country, there is a need to
establish a wide-ranging consultative mechanism for the further discussion of the
review process and its next steps.

B. Security developments

14. Overall, the security situation in Sierra Leone was calm during the reporting
period. However, a sudden rise in armed robberies in the second half of 2009 was a
matter of concern. From 10 October to 19 November 2009, 56 persons were arrested
for such attacks. In order to address the problem, on 10 October 2009 President
Koroma invoked the Military Assistance to Civil Power Act, which legally enabled
the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces to work jointly with the Sierra Leone
police. Their combined efforts proved successful, as robberies throughout the
country declined sharply early in 2010.

15. On 19 September, there was an altercation between personnel of the armed
forces and the police in the Waterloo area of Freetown, which resulted in damage to
a police station and equipment, as well as injuries to several policemen. An inquiry,
led by representatives of the country’s security organs, was commissioned by the
National Security Coordinating Group to investigate the circumstances that led to
the clash. UNIPSIL was invited to participate in the inquiry. Senior officers of the
police and the armed forces took immediate steps, including through mediation, to
improve the working relationship between the institutions.

16. UNIPSIL, with support from the Government of Sierra Leone as well as
UNDP and the Peacebuilding Fund, has developed a comprehensive strategy aimed
at strengthening the cohesion between the police and the armed forces. A training
package for over 7,500 soldiers and police officers has been formulated in the area
of strategic communication, attitudinal change and discipline. The training will
focus on lower- and mid-level command staff. Joint police and military liaison units
will also be established.

17. In the period under review, the Government took steps to ensure that ex-soldiers
demobilized as part of the core review of the armed forces received their entitlements.
However, some of the ex-soldiers affected, engaged in demonstrations and damaged
property in protest at the non-payment of benefits. The Government indicated that a
review of the pension benefits for some of the ex-servicemen concerned is under way
with a view to bringing them into line with current inflation rates.

18. With regard to relations with its neighbours, Sierra Leone continued to
maintain cordial ties with Guinea. Border patrols by the armed services of both
countries continued without any difficulties, and military teams exchanged visits to
discuss common security concerns. By a letter dated 14 September, the Government
of Guinea requested the Government of Sierra Leone to investigate allegations that
some 4,000 mercenaries were being trained in Sierra Leone with a view to launching
an attack on Guinea. the Sierra Leone security sector agencies thoroughly
investigated the allegations and determined that there was no evidence to support
them. On 9 December, Sierra Leone hosted the twenty-sixth meeting of the
Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff of the Economic Community of West African
States, at which recent developments in Guinea and the subregion were discussed.

19. Four unauthorized foreign fishing vessels were apprehended in the coastal
waters of Sierra Leone in the reporting period. The armed forces assisted in an
operation carried out by the United States Coast Guard pursuant to a bilateral
maritime assistance agreement concluded between Sierra Leone and the
Government of the United States of America in June 2009. Forfeiture orders and
fines of about $2 million were imposed by the Sierra Leonean judicial authorities.
The protection of the country’s marine resources is vital and will help Sierra Leone
to increase its revenue-generation capacity. In the period under review, the armed
forces also benefited from training offered by the United States Navy on boarding
techniques and vessel maintenance.

20. General William E. Ward, the Commander of the United States Africa
Command, visited Sierra Leone on 15 September 2009. In a meeting with President
Koroma, General Ward reaffirmed the commitment of the United States Government
to strengthening relations with Sierra Leone and helping improve the capacity of its
armed forces.

C. Economic and social developments

21. The global economic crisis has significantly affected Sierra Leone. Economic
growth fell from 5.5 per cent in 2008 to approximately 4 per cent in 2009; it is
expected to rebound to approximately 5.5 per cent in 2010. Exports, including sales
of diamonds, fell significantly. Consequently, the country’s current account has
worsened. Inflation, which had risen at the outset of the global crisis, fell in the
second half of 2009.

22. In September 2009, it was announced that an oil well with a potential of 200
million barrels had been discovered off the coast of Sierra Leone by a consortium
led by Anadarko, a United States company, with Australian, Spanish and Irish
partners. While it remains to be seen whether the oil found will be sufficient for
commercial exploitation, the discovery has generated substantial publicity and has
injected further momentum into efforts aimed at improving the management of the
natural resource sectors, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative,
for which Sierra Leone is a candidate country with a 9 March deadline for
compliance. UNDP and the World Bank are actively supporting those efforts, while
Germany’s development agency and the African Development Bank are also
considering participating.

23. A new Mines and Minerals Act was signed into law by President Koroma in
January 2010. The law substantially improves the regulation of mining activities in
the country. It makes provision for greater transparency and predictability, limits the
use of discretionary power and expands stakeholder involvement in licensing
decisions. The law also increases royalty rates and resources for community
development and sets new standards for environmental protection and worker safety.

24. The Goods and Services Tax Bill was enacted by Parliament on 4 June 2009
and came into effect early in 2010. A wide range of taxes, including import sales tax,
domestic sales tax, entertainment tax and restaurant and food tax, were replaced by
the goods and services tax, which helped to simplify the previous system of indirect
taxation. Some essential items, including rice, pipe-borne water, fuel, books,
educational and medical services and selected pharmaceutical supplies, will not be
taxed to ensure that the poorer members of the community are not adversely affected
by the introduction of the goods and services tax. It is believed that the tax will raise
more revenue for the Government while having little or no effect on the cost of
living. Overall, taxpayers will pay no more tax than previously, and the savings for
businesses in terms of time and the cost of accounting for tax will be significant.

25. Furthermore, during the period under review the Government commissioned
the Bumbuna hydroelectric project, which is expected to have a positive impact on
the economy in 2010, including by reducing fuel import costs.

26. On 18 and 19 January, the President of the World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick,
visited Sierra Leone. During the visit he met President Koroma and other senior
Government officials, my Executive Representative, international development
partners, the Chair of the Anti-Corruption Commission and representatives of civil
society and the private sector. While acknowledging the Government’s efforts to
implement the Agenda for Change, Mr. Zoellick stressed the need for continued
progress on good governance and the combating of corruption. He also committed
the World Bank to supporting the telecommunications infrastructure of Sierra
Leone, the West Africa Power Pool and regional fisheries management solutions.

27. Sierra Leone signed the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development
Programme Compact in September 2009 and is currently in the process of developing
investment plans in line with the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Plan
for 2010-2020. The World Food Programme (WFP) will support, at the request of the
Government, the implementation of Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development
Programme safety net programmes in four areas: (a) the provision of productive
safety nets, such as food and cash-for-work schemes; (b) the provision of social safety
nets through maternal and child health and school feeding programmes; (c) enhanced
emergency response capacity to respond to localized disasters, such as floods, and for
climate change adaptation; and (d) capacity-building, policy support and the
promotion of social protection.

28. In order to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and strengthen local partnerships, the
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) organized, on
12 November 2009, a national partnership forum, which was attended by over 300.
UNAIDS also arranged the 2009 World AIDS Day campaign, on the theme “Help
protect your baby: get tested for HIV now”. A total of 9,814 people, 7,295 females
and 2,519 males, were tested for HIV during the campaign.

III. Advancing peacebuilding

29. On 18 and 19 November, the Government of Sierra Leone and its development
partners held the sixth Consultative Group meeting, in London. The aim of the
meeting was to broaden the donor support base for Sierra Leone and to encourage
existing donors to increase their assistance to the country. One full day of the
meeting was focused on private sector development and fostering private and public
sector partnerships.

30. The Consultative Group meeting endorsed both the United Nations
multi-donor trust fund, which focuses on capacity-building, and the World Bank
multi-donor trust fund, which focuses on infrastructure. The meeting also led to an
invitation to the Government of Sierra Leone to attend the annual Coordination
Group meeting of a number of key Arab countries, hosted by the Arab Bank for
Economic Development in Africa, held in Khartoum from 11 to 13 January 2010.

31. In preparation for the Consultative Group meeting, my Executive
Representative travelled to Brussels, Madrid, The Hague, Copenhagen, Stockholm,
Oslo, Helsinki and London to meet with senior officials in order to promote the
Government’s Agenda for Change and to mobilize support for the United Nations
joint vision. My Executive Representative highlighted the United Nations
multi-donor trust fund for Sierra Leone, which became operational on 1 November
2009, as the preferred United Nations funding channel in the future.

32. On 27 October 2009, John McNee, Chair of the Sierra Leone configuration of
the Peacebuilding Commission, endorsed and communicated to Member States the
United Nations in kind appeal for boats and vehicles for the security sector agencies
of Sierra Leone. To date, two Peacebuilding Commission members, Thailand and
Egypt, have expressed an interest in the appeal. It is hoped that more members will
review the appeal and consider making appropriate contributions.

33. The aid policy endorsed at the Sierra Leone Consultative Group meeting will
pave the way for the establishment of an improved aid coordination architecture. In
January 2010, discussions on the details of the aid architecture were held with the
aim of operationalizing the new aid coordination structure. The new aid architecture
will allow the United Nations and other partners to better support the Government’s
Agenda for Change.

IV. Support to democratic institutions

A. Sierra Leone broadcasting corporation

34. The joint communiqué of 2 April 2009 called on political parties to work
towards the creation of an independent national broadcasting corporation. The
Government continued to make major strides in establishing an independent national
broadcaster to which the assets of United Nations Radio will be transferred. Since
its inception, in 2000, United Nations Radio, which has the widest national coverage
in the country and round-the-clock programming, has been a source of impartial
news and, as such, is a critical component of the peace consolidation process.

35. The United Nations, the Parliament, the Sierra Leone Association of
Journalists and other stakeholders raised concerns regarding the independence of the
corporation. Accordingly, important amendments, including a requirement that the
appointment of the Director-General of the corporation by the President be subject
to the approval of Parliament, were made to a bill amended by Parliament on
17 December.

36. It is envisaged that the corporation will be formally launched on 27 April. A
transition management team, comprising the Ministry of Information and
Communication, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and representatives of
civil society, has been established. The Peacebuilding Fund has approved $750,000
to support the transition. In preparation for their responsibilities, trustees have
received training courses from the BBC World Service Trust and UNIPSIL.

37. In a spirit of bipartisanship, the Government appointed Septimus Kaikai, the
Minister for Information and Communication in the previous (SLPP) Government,
as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Other trustees include representatives of
the Council of Paramount Chiefs and the Sierra Leone Bar Association. Vacancy
notices for key management positions have been issued and, once the positions have
been filled, the transition process will be driven by the corporation management
team, with UNIPSIL, UNDP and other partners playing a supportive role.

B. Independent Media Commission

38. The Independent Media Commission announced on 12 February 2010 that the
Freetown City Council, which is run by the ruling party, will not be permitted to
operate a radio station. Legal proceedings challenging the withdrawal by the
Independent Media Commission of an SLPP radio station licence were adjourned as
a result of a court ruling issued in Freetown. In November 2009, with support from
UNIPSIL, the Commission carried out training programmes for journalists in a
number of areas, including media law and investigative reporting.

C. Political Parties Registration Commission

39. The Government of Sierra Leone continued to restructure the Political Parties
Registration Commission, with support from UNIPSIL and UNDP. The process will
entail the recruitment of permanent staff for the Commission, as well as financial
autonomy. In January 2010, UNIPSIL international partners, the Department for
International Development of the United Kingdom, the European Commission and
Irish Aid, approved $1.8 million for the upgrading of the operational and
administrative capacities of the Commission as well as of the National Electoral

D. National Electoral Commission

40. In December 2009 and January 2010, the National Electoral Commission and
the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development jointly
organized paramount chieftaincy elections in several chiefdoms in the country.
Supplementing the support from the Government of Sierra Leone, the European
Union and the Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom made available
further financial assistance through an electoral basket fund, managed by UNDP. In
the period under review, the Commission also conducted local council by-elections
in Bo and Kenema Districts.

E. Parliament

41. With assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund, 20 additional clerks and
researchers were recruited for the Parliament of Sierra Leone. The parliamentary
library was refurbished and 20 computers and a number of books were purchased.
Parliament received two minibuses and six motorbikes to enhance the work of its
oversight committees. Training programmes for the clerks and researchers began in
February 2010. Furthermore, seminars were offered to parliamentarians on
transparency issues in the extractive industries, including the oil industry.

F. Sierra Leone police

42. Efforts to boost the capacity of the police in the area of public order
management continued in the reporting period. Through the Peacebuilding Fund,
vehicles, helmets, batons, shields, handcuffs and protective clothing valued at
$909,606 were procured and delivered to the police. In addition, 2,423 officers were
trained in public order management. Another 134 officers assigned to the Police
Complaints, Discipline and Internal Investigations Department were trained and
provided with equipment.

43. In order to support cooperation between the police and the media, UNIPSIL,
with the assistance of the Government of Luxembourg, conducted three regional
workshops, at which modalities for improved relations between the police and the
media were agreed upon in a memorandum of understanding. UNIPSIL assisted the
police in enhancing community relations through the local police partnership
boards, and four partnership training workshops funded by the Government of
Luxembourg were organized for religious, traditional and community leaders.

G. Decentralization

44. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development,
working together with the Decentralization Secretariat, launched the performance
assessment results system for local councils in November 2009. The new system
will enhance the accountability of councils to their constituents. Female councillors
from all 19 local councils were trained by the Decentralization Secretariat on
leadership and confidence-building in November 2009.

45. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development also trained internal
auditors of the 19 local councils. The provision of council offices by the
Decentralization Secretariat is in progress. A financial agreement with the
International Development Agency provided $20 million for decentralized service
delivery and the decentralization process in November 2009. Progress is being made
in the devolution of 75 functions to local councils. However, there is a need for
financial support for local council strategic plans and initiatives.

V. Human rights and the rule of law

A. Support to human rights and the rule of law

46. The increase in incidents of sexual and gender-based violence remains a
serious concern for human rights organizations, as well as for the Government.
Various activities aimed at enhancing the capacity of the National Human Rights
Commission and other local stakeholders in the area of issues relating to human
rights and the rule of law were undertaken by UNIPSIL in the reporting period.
Accordingly, 120 persons from a broad range of civil society organizations active in
four districts were trained in human rights monitoring and reporting. In addition,
80 prison officers received training on human rights. A resource centre for civil
society organizations with Internet access, a conference facility and human rights
resource materials was established in Freetown.

47. In collaboration with UNDP, a workshop was organized in September 2009 for
the members of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee on human rights,
gender and access to justice. In December, UNIPSIL and UNDP facilitated a
dialogue forum for civil society and parliamentarians.

48. The construction of two magistrate courts in Freetown is proceeding smoothly,
and the establishment of a fast-track commercial court is also in progress. The
judiciary also adopted two policy documents in October 2009, namely, a bail policy
guideline for magistrates and judges and an operation manual for bailiffs.

49. With support from the Peacebuilding Fund, progress has also been made in the
refurbishment of Mafanta prison, but the completion of that project has been
hampered by a lack of resources. It is expected that, once the work has been
completed, the prison will help to relieve overcrowding at Pademba Road prison in

B. National Human Rights Commission

50. The National Human Rights Commission continued to further strengthen its
outreach programme and its reporting on the human rights situation in the country.
Among other activities, the Commission carried out sensitization activities related to
its 2008 human rights report. On 7 December, Parliament debated matters raised in
the report and subsequently endorsed it. The Government has made a commitment
to covering the operational costs of the Commission in 2010, including staff
salaries. UNIPSIL has continued to mobilize international donor support to permit
the implementation of the Commission’s strategic plan.

51. Notwithstanding those positive developments, there is still a deficit in the
resources required for the implementation of the Commission’s mandate.

C. Implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission

52. Progress has been made in the implementation of the recommendations
contained in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in particular
through the reparations programme. With support from the Peacebuilding Fund,
microgrants were provided to more than 13,000 eligible victims of the civil war to
enable them to set up small-scale businesses. In addition, 7,000 child victims,
mainly war orphans and children born as a result of sexual violence, received
financial support to pay fees and buy learning materials. More than 200 victims of
sexual violence received treatment.

53. Despite those welcome developments, there remains a significant shortfall in
the funds required to implement the reparations programme. In that regard, on
5 December, President Koroma launched a special trust fund for war victims to
mobilize resources from local and international partners.

VI. Special Court

54. On 26 October 2009, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra
Leone upheld the judgment of the Trial Chamber and convicted eight persons in the
case of Prosecutor v. Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao. The convicted
persons were members of the Revolutionary United Front, the Armed Forces
Revolutionary Council and the Civil Defence Forces, the three main armed militias
that operated during the conflict in Sierra Leone.

55. On 13 August and 26 October 2009, the Special Court for Sierra Leone
designated Rwanda as the State where convicted persons will serve their sentences.
Subsequently, on 31 October 2009, the convicts were transferred to Mpanga prison,
Rwanda, to serve the remainder of their sentences. The Special Court is monitoring
the conditions relating to the enforcement of the prisoners’ sentences.

56. The trial of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, is continuing at
The Hague. The cross-examination of Mr. Taylor ended on 5 February 2010, and the
next stage of the trial involves testimony from defence witnesses. Judgment in the
case is scheduled for December 2010, and the Court’s activities are expected to
conclude in mid-2011.

VII. Progress on the integration process

57. The implementation of the United Nations joint vision is progressing. United
Nations agencies have worked in an integrated manner to identify programme
deliverables for each of the 21 programmes of the joint vision. That approach will
ensure that agencies do not duplicate efforts within a single programme and allow
for the monitoring and evaluation of each programme within the joint vision.

58. The common United Nations garage, security service and medical facility all
continue to make slow but steady progress as key operational elements of the
integrated approach. Cost-sharing agreements between UNIPSIL and United Nations
agencies were concluded during the period under review. A new field office to serve
the United Nations family in Bo became operational. The joint medical clinic
extended its services to the Special Court for Sierra Leone and initiated negotiations
with the diplomatic community to offer services at a fee. The United Nations
helicopter service, which offers the Government and development partners an
efficient connection to rural communities, is recognized as a key service and as an
important United Nations contribution to the peacebuilding effort.

59. Direct programme support, which entails the transition from direct United
Nations execution to the national execution of programmes and projects, is now
being used by the United Nations country team in Sierra Leone. The roll out of
direct programme support is part of a gradual process leading to the normalization
of the way in which the United Nations and the Government interact and is a
positive indicator of the country’s ongoing post-conflict stabilization process.

VIII. Main risks

A. Corruption

60. Efforts to combat corruption continued in the period under review. At an
emergency Cabinet meeting on 26 January 2010, President Koroma cited several
instances of corrupt practices in a number of Government entities and unequivocally
demanded that immediate steps be taken to prevent their recurrence.

61. On 4 November 2009, the Minister of Health was relieved of his duties and
charged with offences under the country’s Anti-Corruption Act, including failure to
comply with regulations concerning the issuance of contracts and abuse of office. In
December, President Koroma directed that the Head of the National Revenue
Authority be suspended from office pending investigations by the Commission into
the misappropriation of donor funds, the corrupt acquisition of wealth and related
offences. The Commission continued to engage civil society and tertiary institutions
in combating corruption. One of the country’s international partners, Irish Aid,
provided €200,000 to support the work of the Commission.

62. The ranking of Sierra Leone in the Transparency International Corruption
Perceptions Index for 2009 improved by 12 places.

B. Illicit drugs

63. To deal with the problem of illegal narcotics, the Sierra Leone Joint Drug
Interdiction Task Force has, in addition to obtaining strong support from the
Government of Sierra Leone, received technical and financial assistance from the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United States Africa Command. A
computer-based training centre was established at the Task Force headquarters and a
variety of computer equipment and training on drug interdiction, intelligence analysis,
search and seizure was provided. As a result, important breakthroughs were made by
the task force in disrupting the activities of drug smugglers, including suspects linked
to the importation of 703 tons of cocaine into Sierra Leone in July 2008.

64. In February 2010, UNIPSIL, in collaboration with the Government of Sierra
Leone, ECOWAS, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Department
of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United
Nations Office for West Africa, convened an expert group meeting and a ministerial
conference with the aim of implementing the West Africa Coast Initiative. The
Initiative will support the ECOWAS regional action plan on illicit drug trafficking
and organized crime. The Conference was also aimed at establishing transnational
crime units in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau to tackle
organized crime and drug trafficking as well as build national and regional
capacities in the areas of drug interdiction, forensics, intelligence, border
management, money-laundering and criminal justice. A joint declaration reaffirming
commitments to fight illicit drug trafficking and organized crime in West Africa, as
well as the operational modalities for the transnational crime units, was adopted at
the conference.

C. Youth unemployment

65. On 7 December 2009, Parliament enacted the National Youth Commission Act,
which will allow for the creation of a dedicated Commission to focus on youth
employment and empowerment and serve as an organ for coordinating all youthrelated
issues. Discussions are in progress on start-up arrangements for the
Commission and to mobilize support from international development partners.

66. An estimated 600,000 young people in the country are currently unemployed.
To address youth unemployment, a sectoral working group, with the participation of
the United Nations, the World Bank, the German development agency, the Ministry
of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Social
Security, was established in 2009. The group devised a strategic framework that
emphasizes job creation. Efforts to create jobs in Sierra Leone will be boosted
significantly with the recent commitment of $20 million by the World Bank to the
youth employment sector.

IX. Observations

67. Corruption has long been recognized as an obstacle to Sierra Leone’s progress.
I therefore welcome the strong recognition by President Koroma of the challenge
corruption poses and the swift action taken by the Anti-Corruption Commission to
combat the problem. I encourage further efforts to ensure that corruption does not
weaken laudable progress towards the development of Sierra Leone and call for
joint action by all national stakeholders to deal with the matter.

68. I thank Sierra Leone’s international development partners for their support and
invite other partners to join in providing critical financial support to enable Sierra
Leoneans to enjoy the dividends of peace. In particular, I appeal to international
partners to provide additional support to the National Human Rights Commission, as
well as the Government’s Special Trust Fund for War Victims.

69. In addition, I note the shortfall in anticipated donor funding required for the
implementation of the Government’s Agenda for Change. I therefore appeal to
Sierra Leone’s international development partners to generously assist the
Government of Sierra Leone in implementing its Agenda for Change. Support for
the Agenda for Change will enable the Government to meet the Agenda’s main
objectives, including in particular in developing infrastructure and increasing
agricultural productivity. The attainment of these goals will in turn help to improve
the difficult socio-economic indicators which have all contributed to making Sierra Leone a fragile State, notwithstanding progress thus far achieved.

70. I am encouraged by the improvements in the political climate in Sierra Leone since the signing of the joint communiqué on 2 April 2009. However, the challenge of fostering political tolerance and promoting non-violence still regrettably remains. Recent developments, notably the violent and disturbing clashes between supporters of the major opposition, SLPP and the ruling APC, on 13 February 2009 do not augur well for the peace and stability of the country as well as for the elections to be held in 2012. There is an urgent need to build trust and mutual confidence between major political parties. I therefore urge SLPP and APC to abide by the code of conduct for political parties as well as the commitments of the joint communiqué of 2 April 2009.

71. I welcome the collaboration of the Government of Sierra Leone and international partners in combating the threat of illegal narcotics and organized crime which, if unchecked, could undermine the peace consolidation process in Sierra Leone. I urge continued efforts in that regard. I wish to reiterate the appeal of the Chair of the Sierra Leone configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission to Member States to donate vehicles and boats for Sierra Leone’s security sector agencies in order to improve their effectiveness in dealing with organized crime.

72. Finally, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to staff of United Nations agencies and programmes and UNIPSIL who, under the leadership of my Executive Representative, Michael von der Schulenburg, have made notable progress in achieving the objectives of the United Nations joint vision as well as assisting the Government of Sierra Leone in advancing the Agenda for Change. I also thank all international partners for their indispensable collaboration with the United Nations in Sierra Leone.

Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002