Breaking the Silence on Human Rights Violations in Sierra Leone under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): A Shadow Report on Discrimination and Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Sierra Leone has a devastating history of gross human rights violations. During the violent civil war 50,000 people were killed and 2,000,000 people were displaced. The civil war was extremely divisive and was rooted in significant prejudice. As this country continues to recover, the prevalence of violence must be eliminated and should not be reinforced by State sanctioned discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This report highlights the widespread human rights violations that continue to take place in Sierra Leone. The State of Sierra Leone cannot move forward in its commitment to human rights without repealing the inherently discriminatory law, the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. The government of Sierra Leone must take responsibility to protect their citizens against acts of violence and discrimination. The LGBTI community lives in silence and fear. Sierra Leone’s participation in the 110th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Committee indicates that the government is committed to comply with all provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. With the ongoing constitutional reform process currently taking place in the State of Sierra Leone, the government has a unique opportunity to address the aforementioned violations of the ICCPR and expressly include the LGBTI community in the protections afforded by the Constitution. The State of Sierra Leone’s laws and practices must comply with the human rights principles required by the ICCPR.