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S / Leonean Judge Barnett Seeks Support From W / African Envoys For AU Rights Work

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S / Leonean Judge Barnett Seeks Support From W / African Envoys For AU Rights Work

By Ifeanyi Nwoko

Sierra Leonean judge, Judge Tonia Barnett has requested the support of diplomats from West African states for her candidacy for the post of Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Barnett, the Sierra Leonean candidate, told a dinner for ambassadors and high commissioners of West African countries that protecting rights had been her passion, hence the zeal for the post. .

The dinner was hosted by the Sierra Leonean High Commission headed by High Commissioner Solomon Gembeh.

The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the Commission, based in Banjul, The Gambia, was established in 1987 and that the term of Ethiopia’s current Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso expires in 2021.

NAN also reports that some of the countries whose diplomats were present at the dinner with the Sierra Leonean candidate include: Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Liberia, among others.

Barnett sought the support of their home governments for her candidacy, saying that having resisted war and deprivation of rights, she was very committed to the principles of the post.

She said: “As a woman whose teenage life was stolen by a rebel incursion into Sierra Leone, my education made me strong and gave me the opportunity to be here tonight.

“My appointment by my President Julius Bio has garnered the support of the judiciary in Sierra Leone and key civil society organizations, including the Human Rights Organization.

The candidate said that being a judge who was never investigated and whose morality was never questioned, she had met the qualification criteria for the post as stipulated by the article 31 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

She said her work as a lawyer and judge over the years, working primarily to protect and promote human rights, has also given credit to her professional experience as a prerequisite.

“Before being appointed a judge, I was a magistrate for 11 years, investigating and judging cases of sexual abuse, cruelty to children.

“As a judge of the High Court; I hear and determine cases that touch on human rights. Cases like the right to family life, the rights of association and the right to belong to political parties.

“These are rights that border on the African Charter and human rights, treaties and conventions.

“Currently in Sierra Leone, the Chief Justice is doing everything possible to ensure that access to justice is a right and should be improved and enjoyed by all citizens.

“We believe that this is not just a fair hearing, but that you should have the right to lodge a complaint and to be heard by a competent court,” she said.

Barnett, who holds an LLM in Women and Children’s Affairs, stressed that in doing her job she was respecting the treaties and conventions that her country had signed and ratified.

She said her belief in human rights resulted in a controversial bail she granted to a frail-looking 75-year-old man who had prostate cancer in a sexual abuse case.

The man, she said, had not been convicted and could not be allowed to suffer in poor prison facilities due to his old age and poor health while the case was pending. examination course.

The candidate recalled that her passion for human rights and a fair hearing was ignited during the war when she saw a man killed with an ax as a result of an accusation, even without having his new.

“Article for of the Charter of Human Rights and African Peoples states that human rights must be strengthened and this is also enshrined in our constitution.

“During the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty, my position was this: because death is irreversible and a wrongful conviction can be damaging, I said that we should reconsider the death penalty .

“With every right there must be a corresponding responsibility. I want to take advantage of my freedom of expression but I must not defame.

“With that in mind and all citizens living up to it, I think we would have a peaceful society.

“So as a candidate for the job, what I bring is vitality. We have to get down, get up from the chairs, and walk. We need to engage states parties to understand that human rights issues are not just one party’s business, they are everyone’s business.

“If the rights of citizens are threatened, it has enabled the uprising and a peaceful society will not be strengthened. As Africans we want a peaceful society, we have cried too much.

“Those who haven’t known war would like war,” she said.

She assured that this role would allow her to fulfill some of her dreams of impacting the lives of Africans in the slums and also promoting their rights. (NAA)

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