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Two members of the Sierra Leone Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Rashin Bundu and Hon. Alpha Babatunde Lewally have called on Development Partners in Europe to continue to give support to the government of Sierra Leone in its drive to empower more women and the vulnerable in the nation’s governance structure. (Photo: Hon. Ibrahim Rashin Bundu and Hon. Alpha Babatunde Lewally)
In his intervention at the European Parliament during a joint-session of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and their European counterparts, Hon. Bundu, who is also the Deputy Leader in the Sierra Leone Parliament, highlighted the great strides the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has made to mitigate the scourge of violence against women, girls and other vulnerable groups through the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act, the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act, the Devolution of Estates Act, the Child Rights Act in 2007 and the Sexual Offences Act of 2012. He also mentioned the Ant-Human Trafficking Act (2005), the Sierra Leone Citizenship Act (2006) and the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS Act (2007).
Hon. Bundu further informed the jam-packed European Parliament about women that have been appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma to some powerful positions in the country since assuming office in 2007, prominent among them is the appointment of Hon. Humu Hawa Tejan Jalloh as the first female Chief Justice in Sierra Leone; Madam Kestora Kabia, the first woman to be appointed Brigadier in the Sierra Leone Army, Dr Sylvia olayinka Blyden, the first woman to be appointed Special Executive Assistant (SEA) to His Excellency the President, Hon. Mustapha Bai Atillah, the first blind man to be appointed Deputy Minister in Sierra Leone, Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura who served as cabinet minister in two senior Ministries before being spotted by the United Nations Secretary to serve as UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
In a related development, the erudite MPs also discussed the involvement of Parliamentarians in monitoring the implementation of EU funded projects in ACP countries since the inception of the Partnership Agreement between the ACP States and the EU Countries with a view to determine effective ways to stimulate growth and achieve sustainable development in ACP Countries, focussing on key sectors like infrastructure, health, trade, democracy and energy.
It was further observed that Parliament’s role in serving as the mouthpiece of the people and the donor partners through independently-owned electronic and print media channels is also for now a pipe dream for most ACP Parliaments. This was attributed mainly to the financial challenges associated with the execution of this responsibility in the case of the ACP Parliamentarians.
Hon. Bundu therefore submitted that, “ just as it is done in the case of civil society, that provision be made in the 11thEDF under both the National Indicative Programme and the Regional Indicative Programme for the necessary financial provision to enable Parliamentarians to effectively execute their monitoring role. The Commission should no doubt rethink it strategy of limiting involvement in monitoring activities to only Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), who are not legal representatives of the people. What we want is the capability of effectively working with Civil Society and Government in the interest of our representatives for the proper monitoring of both MDAs and Civil Society through adequate financial support”.
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