The EU Delegation to Sierra Leone marked International Human Rights Day 2020 with a Press lunch at Country Lodge. It was a privileged, two hour opportunity to exchange views with the media on a variety of issues and to look back on a difficult year – a year in which COVID struck and during which fundamental human rights, democracy and the rule of law came under pressure in many parts of the world.
But we also made progress. In Sierra Leone, criminal libel is a thing of the past and the right to education of every young girl is now firmly anchored in a policy of radical inclusion. The instatement of a formal high-level dialogue between the government and civil society organisations is another realisation that has the potential to create more space for the promotion and defence of human rights.
This gives us hope and reminds us that achieving change is possible when we work together.
The EU’s collaboration with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists on fighting fake news and disinformation is just one of the examples of how the EU remained engaged and stood firmly by the side of Sierra Leoneans during COVID times.
Respect for human dignity, freedom of speech, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are fundamental values of the European Union. The recently established EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime is a new powerful tool which allows to target individuals, state and non-state actors responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred. Such restrictive measures encompass travel ban and asset freeze and prohibit making funds available to those responsible for the violations.
Human Rights represent hope. The hope that we should all aspire to represent. It is a choice that we make as citizens, as policy-makers and as persons who translate policy into action. Let us all build back better.