The Africa Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) recently engaged in a productive meeting with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Timothy M. Kabba.

The gathering, held in the Ministerial conference room at Tower Hill, Freetown, aimed to review the country’s advancements in the realm of child rights and its commitment to international agreements.

The ACERWC delegation was warmly received by Dr. Victoria Sulimani, Director-General and Ambassador at Large, who noted the significance of the meeting as an indicator of Sierra Leone’s strides in adhering to international conventions. Dr. Sulimani highlighted the nation’s dedication to implementing various international instruments concerning child welfare.

During the encounter, Honorable Aver Gavar, Country Rapporteur of the Republic of Sierra Leone, applauded the Government’s commendable action in ratifying the Africa Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Furthermore, she praised Sierra Leone’s submission of its initial report in 2017, a demonstration of the country’s commitment to transparently assess its progress.

The purpose of the ACERWC’s visit was to monitor and engage with government ministries and organizations regarding the recommendations and observations previously made by the Committee. The African Charter mandates State Parties to provide periodic reports on their efforts to ensure children’s rights, with an initial report due two years after ratification and subsequent reports every three years.

In response, Minister Timothy Musa Kabba expressed gratitude for the delegation’s recognition of Sierra Leone’s advancements in child-focused initiatives. Notably, the Minister highlighted the government’s decision to split the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs into two separate entities, signifying an earnest commitment to children’s well-being.

Kabba emphasized, “The government has significantly invested in addressing children’s concerns to secure a promising future.” He proudly cited President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s leadership in championing foundational learning and allocating 22% of the national budget toward quality education for children. The Minister underscored the equitable education access for rural and urban children, brought about by the government’s Radical Inclusion policy. This policy has also granted pregnant girls the opportunity to attend school, fostering equal educational opportunities.

Speaking of achievements, Kabba highlighted the transformative impact of the ‘Hands off Our Girls’ campaign and the provision of free sanitary pads for girls, initiatives launched by First Lady Madam Fatima Bio. The Minister also acknowledged the successful review of the Sexual Offences Act in 2019, a crucial step toward enhancing the protection of women and girls.

Minister Kabba assured the ACERWC delegation of his ministry’s unwavering support in facilitating interactions with other government entities during their engagement in Sierra Leone.