During the  Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sierra Leone Bar Association in Kenema, Victor Idrissa Lansana, Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, emphasized the government’s obligation towards national development. He highlighted both international and constitutional duties, urging adherence to Sections 5(2)(b) and 13 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

Lansana underscored the historical context of human rights abuses in Africa, from slavery and colonialism to unconstitutional government changes. He stressed that such unlawful transitions significantly undermine fundamental human rights, including life, privacy, freedom of assembly, expression, and economic, social, and cultural rights.

Reflecting on post-independence Africa, Lansana noted the initial high hopes for self-governance and development. However, he lamented that, in many cases, African leaders post-independence have used repressive measures, exacerbating suffering and leading to unconstitutional government changes. Citing the African Peer Review Mechanism report of 2023, Lansana highlighted that there have been 18 successful unconstitutional takeovers in Africa from 2003 to 2023.

Lansana articulated that governments have an international duty to protect, respect, and fulfill human rights. Nationally, the Sierra Leonean Constitution mandates that citizen welfare and security are paramount government responsibilities. He warned against using governmental failures as justifications for unconstitutional changes, emphasizing that any governmental transition must be lawful.

Addressing citizens, Lansana referenced Section 13 of the Constitution, which outlines the duties of citizens, including patriotism, respect for national institutions, and lawful behavior. He criticized practices like illegal electricity abstraction, which harm the nation and its people while detractors call out the government for power outages.

Concluding his address, Lansana urged the government to prioritize development aspirations, foster a thriving civic space, and create more opportunities for citizens. He also called on citizens to actively participate in governance processes and constructively hold their leaders accountable. His remarks resonated with the theme of the AGM, “Unconstitutional Change of Government and its Threats to Democracy,” highlighting the critical intersection of governance, human rights, and citizen responsibility in Sierra Leone’s development journey.