Following a deliberate decision of the Government of Sierra Leone to increase food production, reduce the country‘s dependency on imports and to boost the economic development of the country, there has been considerable influx of by powerful foreign companies in the country. Their investments, particularly in the mining sector and large-scale land-based agricultural concessions, have been controversial as they often resulted in, sometimes even violent, land conflicts.
Land conflicts also exist between different groups in society, for example between grazers and farmers, who both claim access to the same piece of land, and within families, where men tend to have a stronger says in land decisions than women. At the heart of these conflicts are often human rights violations. The Government of Sierra Leone has the obligation to protect, respect and fulfil human rights of its citizens. But due to poor land governance, human rights such as the right to food and to housing, but also the right to participation, non-discrimination and access to justice are often violated.
New land laws, aiming to improve tenure rights protection and increase the power of vulnerable land users to defend their interests, particularly vis-a-vis powerful companies, were passed by Parliament in 2022. However, its role-out has only just started and major deficits in land governance practice continue to exist. It’s important to identify and address these challenges, as the effective governance of tenure of land is considered central for sustainable and inclusive development, the realization of human rights of all citizens and a peaceful democratic future of Sierra Leone.
The National Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the NGO Land for Life therefore decided to assess the current land governance situation in Sierra Leone, with the support of FAO and TMG. The Human Rights 4 Land Monitoring Tool, developed by TMG and the DIHR (more info here), will be used to assess to what extent the land tenure laws, policies and practice at national and local level are compliant with human rights obligations of the State of Sierra Leone that are underpinning the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Forest and Fisheries (VGGT). The identified deficits will be used for evidence-based advocacy and to hold the government accountable for responsible land governance and the effective protection of tenure rights.
FAO and TMG signed an agreement to jointly support this effort, which started with the first Training of Trainers (Dec 2023) on the use of the tool in the country. Learn more about it here.
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