The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) on Thursday 11 and Friday 12th November 2021 held its first mobile complaint hearing in Gbado Town, Kenema District, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Irish Aid.

Gbado is the chiefdom Headquarters Town of Kandu-Leppiayama Chiefdom. The town with a population of over a thousand is a cosmopolitan area as people from the south and east of the country converge to carry out mining activity.

During the mobile complaint hearing at the N/A Court Barray, the de-amalgamation issue was top among other complaints received by the Commission from residents of Gbado Town.

Before 1955, Leppiayama and Kandu were two separate entities, existing as chiefdoms but as a result of colonial convenience, these two chiefdoms were brought together. But in 2017, the people of Leppiayama began to mount a campaign for separation. The complainants claimed that Leppiayama had been deprived for decades from getting the Chiefdom Development Funds.

During the opening session, residents of the township and its immediate environs welcomed the hearing, describing it as timely as they have been waiting for such an opportunity to bring to the fore issues affecting them.

Both the Women’s Representative, Kadiatu Bockarie and Youth Leader, Amara Ndorijie, thanked the Commission for taking the complaints hearing to their doorstep and added; “this is a huge opportunity for us to forward our complaints to the Commission so our rights will be restored.”

The Chairperson of the Commission, Patricia Narsu Ndanema spoke about the establishment of the HRCSL and what they have been doing over the years to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

She also made a presentation on the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 as amended in 2019, cataloguing some of the key provisions in the document.

“This is not the first time we are holding this hearing. The Commission was set up for people to have a place to report human rights issues. We are here to listen to your concerns and find ways of solving them,” she said.

Section Chief of Gbado Town, Abdul Moiwai welcomed the team from the Commission and noted that the event will give them more knowledge about their rights and responsibility.

Deputy Director of Complaints, Investigation and Legal Services, Sidratu Kargbo urged residents, especially women and girls to stay away from unwanted activity and concentrate on their education.