Committee on the Rights of the Child
List of issues prior to submission of the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Sierra Leone *
1.The State party is requested to submit in writing the information requested below (21,200 words maximum), if possible before 15 February 2023. The replies should take into consideration the Committee’s recommendations contained in its concluding observations on the combined third to fifth periodic reports of the State party, adopted on 1 November 2016. The Committee may take up all aspects of children’s rights set out in the Convention and its Optional Protocols during the dialogue with the State party.
2.The Committee requests the State party to provide:
(a)Information on the adoption or reform of laws, policies and programmes, and any other type of measures taken, such as the creation or reform of institutions, that are significant for the implementation of the Convention, the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol thereto on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and information on any discussion on the signature and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on a communications procedure;
(b)Information on the measures taken to ensure the protection of the rights of children in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic, in view of the Committee’s statement of 8 April 2020 on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children;
(c)Any other information that the State party considers relevant in this regard and that is not covered in the replies to the questions below, including information on obstacles and challenges faced.
3.The Committee also requests the State party to provide information on how a child rights-based approach is integrated into the planning, implementation and monitoring of measures for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including with regard to the participation of children and data collection, and how such measures promote the realization of children’s rights under the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto.
II.Rights under the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto
A.General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44 (6))
4.Please provide information on measures taken to:
(a)Finalize and adopt the review of the Child Rights Act;
(b)Ensure that all domestic legislation complies with the Convention;
(c)Review the removal of the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the amendment of 2019 to the Sexual Offences Act, in order to comply with the Convention.
Comprehensive policy and coordination
5.Please provide information on the steps taken to:
(a)Ensure that the development and implementation of national policies affecting children encompass all areas covered by the Convention and are supported by sufficient human, technical and financial resources;
(b)Implement and budget for key policy actions relating to children’s rights under the midterm national education for development plan, 2019–2023;
(c)Clearly define the mandates of the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs with relation to children’s issues and explain how they coordinate their mandates on children’s rights;
(d)Strengthen the capacity of the National Commission for Children to develop a comprehensive policy and strategy on addressing and monitoring children’s rights and protection issues and clarify its role and mandate.
Allocation of resources
6.Please provide detailed information on the measures taken to:
(a)Incorporate a child rights-based approach into the State budgeting process and ensure the sufficient and equitable allocation of resources for promoting and protecting children’s rights among the social, education, health and child protection sectors;
(b)Continue eradicating corruption and ensure a transparent, accountable and participatory budgeting process, including by involving children;
(c)Identify internal sources of financing for the implementation of policies affecting children;
(d)Ensure that children, in particular those in vulnerable situations, are not affected by regressive measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential consequences of the economic crisis triggered by those measures.
7.Please provide an update to the Committee on the efforts made to improve the collection and quality of disaggregated data relating to the implementation of the Convention, in particular data on children with disabilities.
Dissemination, awareness-raising and training
8.Please provide information on the systematic training of all professional groups working with and for children and on awareness-raising programmes, including in local languages and through community-based structures, for children, parents and the general public on the Convention, the Optional Protocols thereto and the Committee’s concluding observations.
9.With reference to the recommendations contained in the Committee’s concluding observations on the combined third to fifth periodic reports of the State party, please provide information on obstacles to the implementation of the Human Rights Commission Act and on measures to ensure that the Human Rights Commission is able to discharge its responsibilities independently and has sufficient financial and human resources to receive, investigate and address complaints by children in a child-sensitive manner.
Children’s rights and the business sector
10.Please explain whether companies operating in the State party are required to undertake environmental and health impact assessments with public consultation and/or to make full public disclosure of the impact on children’s rights and their plans to address them.
B.Definition of the child (art. 1)
Minimum age of marriage
11.Please inform the Committee of any measure taken to amend the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act, which allows for child marriage, especially of girls.
C.General principles (arts. 2–3, 6 and 12)
12.With reference to the Committee’s previous recommendations, please provide an update on bringing the Constitution’s provisions on non-discrimination into full compliance with the Convention and on eliminating discrimination against groups of children in the most vulnerable situations, such as girls, children with disabilities, children infected with HIV and children affected by HIV/AIDS, orphaned children and children in rural areas.
Best interests of the child
13.Please inform the Committee about the steps taken to:
(a)Undertake child rights impact assessments for any proposed policy, legislative, regulatory, budget, international cooperation or other administrative decision that affects children and their enjoyment of their rights;
(b)Ensure that the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration is appropriately integrated into, and consistently applied in, all legislative, administrative and judicial proceedings and decisions.
Respect for the views of the child
14.Please provide information on the measures taken to promote the meaningful participation of children in the family, in the community, at school and in all decisions affecting them.
D.Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7–8 and 13–17)
15.Please provide information on the legislative, administrative and practical steps taken or envisaged to:
(a)Harmonize the data collected on births by the National Civil Registration Authority and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and clearly define their roles in birth registration and certification;
(b)Ensure the provision and collection of birth certificates after birth registration;
(c)Remove fees for birth registration and certification and address reports of the purchase and sale of birth certificates;
(d)Ensure an adequate number of staff, and that they are properly trained, for birth registration and provide them with equipment at the regional registration centres;
(e)Ensure that migrant children, refugee children and children in street situations have access to birth registration and birth certificates;
(f)Ensure that the lack of a birth certificate does not hinder access to child protection services or basic social services.
E.Violence against children (arts. 19, 24 (3), 28 (2), 34, 37 (a) and 39)
Freedom of the child from all forms of violence
16.Please provide an update on the measures taken or envisaged to:
(a)Prohibit corporal punishment by law in all settings and enhance awareness of non-violent parenting methods;
(b)Investigate and sanction the reported police and military violence in enforcing measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic;
(c)Tackle and combat domestic violence and bullying and violence at school, including that which is perpetrated by teachers and school staff;
(d)Ensure that the perpetrators of violence against children are systematically held accountable;
(e)Strengthen the capacities of family support units to increase their outreach at the village level;
(f)Ensure the availability of legal support, child-friendly confidential complaint mechanisms and age-appropriate information on access to counselling and redress, including compensation and rehabilitation.
Sexual exploitation, abuse and gender-based violence
17.With reference to the Committee’s previous recommendations, please provide information on the following:
(a)Whether the age of majority has been established by law;
(b)The functioning, information management, availability and accessibility of the child helpline established in 2020 to respond to gender-based violence and child sexual abuse, including whether the helpline is accessible online;
(c)Measures to enhance awareness of the harmful impact of child sexual abuse and to ensure reporting and the availability of appropriate services for referral, in particular in rural areas;
(d)The availability of legal aid and psychological support personnel in the one-stop centres for addressing gender-based violence and child sexual abuse and whether the support provided is age-appropriate;
(e)The funding allocated for post-rape services and the social integration of children who are victims of sexual violence;
(f)Multisectoral measures to investigate reported cases of sexual violence against children and to prosecute and punish the perpetrators, without any exception, including by not accepting any out-of-court settlements in such cases, in order to eliminate impunity;
(g)Any measures to set up a national system for documenting and tracking gender-based violence and child sexual abuse.
18.With reference to the Committee’s previous recommendations, please provide an update on the legislative and practical steps taken or envisaged to prohibit and eradicate child marriage and female genital mutilation. In particular, please provide information on measures taken or envisaged to:
(a)Prohibit female genital mutilation in law;
(b)Implement the national strategy for the reduction of adolescent pregnancy and child marriage, 2018–2022;
(c)Conduct awareness-raising campaigns on the negative consequences of child marriage on girls, on the negative consequences of female genital mutilation and on the African Union campaign to end child marriage.
F.Family environment and alternative care (arts. 5, 9–11, 18 (1)–(2),20–21, 25 and 27 (4))
Children deprived of a family environment and adoption
19.Please provide an update on the measures taken or envisaged to:
(a)Ensure the effectiveness of, and adequate funding for, the Trust Fund for Child Welfare;
(b)Fully implement the national alternative care policy for children, in particular with regard to regulating informal care, including men pikin (informal foster care with another family);
(c)Strengthen formal alternative care structures;
(d)Provide data on residential and foster care for children;
(e)Strengthen the monitoring of residential institutions, including with a view to verifying whether they adhere to minimum norms and standards, whether they regularly review placements, whether they provide individual development and reintegration plans and whether they enable the reporting, monitoring and remedying of cases of the maltreatment of children;
(f)Increase the human, technical and financial resources allocated to alternative care centres and child protection services;
(g)Review the Adoption Act, consider ratifying the Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption and promote and encourage formal domestic adoption.
G.Children with disabilities (art. 23)
20.Please provide information on measures taken or envisaged to:
(a)Address the three challenges identified in the context of implementation of the social plan of action for persons with disabilities, 2019–2023, namely, the data, stigma and lack of a coherent institutional mechanism to support the implementation of the legislative framework in relation to children with disabilities;
(b)Ensure that children with disabilities and their families have access to social support programmes, such as the national social safety net, at the community level;
(c)Ensure that children with disabilities have access to inclusive early childhood care and education, early development programmes and health care;
(d)Provide adequate human, technical and financial resources for the implementation of the radical inclusion policy;
(e)Provide children with disabilities with rehabilitation services and reasonable accommodation for their full inclusion in all areas of public life.
H.Basic health and welfare (arts. 6, 18 (3), 24, 26, 27 (1)–(3) and 33)
Health and health services
21.Please provide an update to the Committee on the progress made to:
(a)Address the root causes of the high infant and child mortality rates;
(b)Set up special baby units in district hospitals;
(c)Implement the universal health coverage road map, 2021–2030, to guide the expansion of free health-care coverage for all children;
(d)Prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, promote early diagnosis and the early initiation of treatment and ensure proper coverage for HIV testing and antiretroviral provision;
(e)Improve access to high-quality health-care services with trained health workers for children and pregnant women, especially in rural areas;
(f)Strengthen links between national, district and community health systems and reporting between those systems, including on the timely transfer of funds;
(g)Identify sustainable internal funding for health services to replace the reliance on donor funding;
(h)Roll out vaccinations without delay, in particular for the human papilloma virus;
(i)Develop a comprehensive, child-centred nutrition programme to tackle the root causes of all forms of malnutrition.
22.Please provide information on the following:
(a)Specific measures taken and resources available for the implementation of the national strategy for the reduction of adolescent pregnancy and child marriage, 2018–2022;
(b)Steps taken to decriminalize abortion in all circumstances;
(c)The availability of, and access to, age-appropriate reproductive health services, affordable contraceptive methods and free and safe abortion and post-abortion services for girls;
(d)Comprehensive education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including information on family planning, contraceptives and the risks related to early pregnancy, as well as on the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections;
(e)Measures to address the consequences of female genital mutilation, including by ensuring access to free treatment for obstetric fistula;
(f)The prevalence of drug, alcohol and tobacco use among adolescent children;
(g)Measures to adopt a policy framework on the mental health of children and/or to strengthen the provision of mental health and psychological services for children, in particular at the community level.
Impact of climate change on the rights of the child
23.Please provide information on the measures taken to:
(a)Ensure that the activities of private and public companies operating in the State party take into consideration the impact of climate change on the rights of the child;
(b)Mitigate deforestation, address illegal logging and develop alternative livelihood strategies;
(c)Develop adaptation strategies in view of the impact of climate change on agriculture and water availability;
(d)Integrate the special vulnerabilities and needs and views of children into policies and programmes addressing the issues of climate change and disaster risk management and increase the levels of awareness of, and preparedness for, climate change and natural disasters among children.
Standard of living
24.Please provide information on the measures taken or envisaged to:
(a)Expand the national social safety net to cover more children and gradually move to universal coverage;
(b)Set up a universal child grant and identify internal sources of financing for the scheme;
(c)Decrease child poverty;
(d)Improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene for children.
I.Education, leisure and cultural activities (arts. 28–31)
Education, rest, leisure, recreation and cultural and artistic activities
25.Please inform the Committee of the measures taken to:
(a)Ensure free early childhood education and primary and secondary education, in line with the free quality school education policy, and discourage teachers to charge for extra lessons;
(b)Improve the equity in, and quality of, education, including the quality and availability of school facilities, educational materials and teaching staff, and improve educational outcomes, in particular in functional literacy;
(c)Provide children, in particular children with disabilities, children in rural areas, asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children and children in disadvantaged socioeconomic situations, with accessible and inclusive education;
(d)Ensure that the new policy aimed at keeping pregnant students and adolescent mothers in school, issued on 31 March 2020, is effectively implemented;
(e)Strengthen professional development for teachers;
(f)Address any disproportionate impact that the closing of schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the rights of children in disadvantaged situations, including pregnant girls;
(g)Expedite the approval of government grants and school subsidies for community schools and support community schools in meeting the minimum standards, including for quality and safety;
(h)Strictly enforce the teacher’s code of conduct and take appropriate measures to address charges of sexual abuse by teachers in schools and to prosecute the perpetrators.
J.Special protection measures (arts. 22, 30, 32–33, 35–36, 37 (b)–(d) and 38–40)
Asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children
26.Please provide information on the measures taken to:
(a)Ensure that asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children are not detained or imprisoned;
(b)Ensure that such children have access to health, education and other social services.
Economic exploitation, including child labour and children in street situations
27.Please provide information on the measures taken to:
(a)Explicitly prohibit the employment of children in harmful or hazardous work and develop a list of hazardous work in which children are explicitly prohibited from engaging;
(b)Ensure that no child engages in hazardous work and put into place social programmes aimed at the elimination or prevention of child labour, especially the worst forms thereof;
(c)Determine the conditions in which light work may be permitted and the number of hours during which children may undertake such employment, ensuring that children have sufficient leisure time and do not miss school;
(d)Conduct a comprehensive study to assess the scope, nature and root causes of the presence of children in street situations, in order to develop, with the participation of children, a national strategy and plan of action to support such children;
(e)Ensure that children in street situations are provided with adequate food, clothing, housing, health care and educational opportunities, in particular in urban areas;
(f)Provide such children with counselling and recovery and reunite them with their families, whenever feasible and appropriate, taking into consideration the best interests of the children concerned.
Sale, trafficking and abduction
28.With reference to the Committee’s previous recommendations, please provide updated information on measures taken to:
(a)Adopt the bill on combating trafficking in persons;
(b)Collect data on the trafficking of children and identify and address its root causes;
(c)Adequately train professionals on procedures for the identification and care of children who are victims of sale, trafficking and abduction;
(d)Increase resources and strengthen efforts to ensure that children who are victims of trafficking, sale and abduction have access to protective and support services, physical and psychological recovery services and social reintegration;
(e)Conduct awareness-raising activities in order to make both parents and children aware of the dangers of trafficking.
Administration of child justice
29.With reference to the Committee’s previous recommendations, please inform the Committee of the progress made to:
(a)Fully implement all interventions under the child justice strategy and bring its child justice system fully into accordance with the Convention;
(b)Ensure that detention, including custody and pretrial detention, is used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time and that it is reviewed on a regular basis with a view to the withdrawal of such orders;
(c)Ensure that detention conditions are compliant with international standards, including with regard to access to nutritious food, water, education, health-care services and counselling, in particular in the remand homes in Freetown and Bo operated by the Ministry of Social Welfare;
(d)Implement non-custodial measures and promote diversion programmes;
(e)Provide rehabilitation and reintegration services for children leaving detention.
Children who are victims and witnesses of crimes
30.Please provide information on the following:
(a)The operationalization of the Sexual Offences Model Court in Freetown that was established in 2020 for the purpose of fast-tracking the hearing of cases of sexual and gender-based violence;
(b)Protection and support provided to children who are victims and witnesses of crimes in criminal justice proceedings, in particular in cases of sexual offences;
(c)Measures to improve the rates of reporting of, and prosecution for, sexual offences and to ensure the provision of full psychological and physical protection for, and the rehabilitation of, children who are victims and witnesses of crimes.
K.Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
31.Please inform the Committee about the measures taken to implement the recommendations contained in its concluding observations on the report of the State party submitted under article 12 (1) of the Optional Protocol, in particular the legislative, policy and administrative measures taken to:
(a)Fully incorporate the provisions of the Optional Protocol into national legislation;
(b)Develop a national plan of action to implement the Optional Protocol and, to this end, ensure the allocation of sufficient human and financial resources;
(c)Establish a comprehensive data-collection system covering all areas of the Optional Protocol;
(d)Explicitly define and criminalize all offences referred to in articles 2 and 3 of the Optional Protocol, including the possession and distribution of child sexual abuse material;
(e)Address root causes and risk factors contributing to the high incidence of offences under the Optional Protocol in the State party, including poverty, harmful traditional practices, gender and absence of parental care;
(f)Ensure the early identification of children who are victims of offences under the Optional Protocol and adopt measures to address such victims’ specific needs related to sex and gender;
(g)Ensure that children who are victims of offences under the Optional Protocol receive adequate services and support for their social reintegration and physical and psychological recovery.
L.Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict
32.Please provide an update to the Committee on the measures taken to implement the recommendations contained in its concluding observations on the report of the State party submitted under article 8 (1) of the Optional Protocol and information on measures taken to establish a mechanism for the early identification of returning children who may have been involved in armed conflict, in particular children returning from Libya, and to provide physical and psychological recovery and social integration services for such children.
III.Statistical information and data
33.The statistical information and disaggregated data provided by the State party should cover the period since the consideration of its previous reports on the implementation of the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto. The data should be disaggregated by age, sex, ethnic origin, national origin, type of disability, geographical location and socioeconomic status, as well as by year or other relevant time frame.
34.The provision of tables presenting trends over the reporting period is recommended and explanations or comments on significant changes that have taken place over the reporting period should also be provided.
A.General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44 (6))
35.Please provide information on the budget lines regarding children and the social sectors, indicating the amount allocated to each budget line and its proportion in terms of the total national budget.
B.General principles (arts. 2–3, 6 and 12)
36.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Cases of discrimination affecting children, prosecutions brought before the courts under legislation governing non-discrimination and the sanctions imposed on perpetrators;
(b)Deaths of children caused by abuse, neglect, violence and substance abuse.
C.Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7–8 and 13–17)
37.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Information and communications technology-related violations of children’s rights;
(b)Cases of such violations that have been investigated and prosecuted;
(c)Birth registrations and birth certificates issued.
D.Violence against children (arts. 19, 24 (3), 28 (2), 34, 37 (a) and 39)
38.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Cases in which children have been victims of violence and neglect, including corporal punishment, physical abuse, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual and gender-based violence and police violence, that have been reported to the authorities, such cases that have been investigated and resulted in prosecutions, further disaggregated by the sanctions imposed on perpetrators, and out-of-court settlements, further disaggregated by type of offence;
(b)Children who have received protective measures and multidisciplinary remedies as victims and/or witnesses of violence and neglect, in particular physical and sexual abuse and exploitation;
(c)Children who have been victims of female genital mutilation and child marriage.
E.Family environment and alternative care (arts. 5, 9–11, 18 (1)–(2), 20–21, 25 and 27 (4))
39.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Families and children receiving child support under the national social safety net and economic and other types of support services;
(b)Children in family-based care, residential care and informal care;
(c)Children adopted domestically and internationally.
F.Children with disabilities (art. 23)
40.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of children with disabilities who are or who have been:
(a)Receiving economic and other types of support services;
(b)Living with their families;
(c)Attending regular schools.
Please also provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on reports of violence and abuse, including sexual violence, perpetrated against children with disabilities, the number of investigations and prosecutions carried out and the sentences imposed on perpetrators.
G.Basic health and welfare (arts. 6, 18 (3), 24, 26, 27 (1)–(3) and 33)
41.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the following:
(a)Mortality rates among infants and children under 5 years of age;
(b)Children suffering from malnutrition and stunting;
(c)Child deaths due to preventable diseases;
(f)Sexual and reproductive health services available to adolescents;
(g)Children suffering from drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse;
(h)Paediatric and mental health services and professionals specialized in young children and adolescents, in particular in rural areas;
(i)Children living below the poverty line and in extreme poverty.
H.Education, leisure and cultural activities (arts. 28–31)
42.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Children not attending primary and secondary school;
(b)Children dropping out of school, including children with disabilities, girls and teenage mothers;
(c)Cases of bullying, violence and sexual abuse and harassment in schools;
(d)Children attending early childhood education, including children with disabilities, and the average years of attendance;
(e)Cases of gender-based violence perpetrated by teachers that have been prosecuted.
I.Special protection measures (arts. 22, 30, 32–33, 35–36, 37 (b)–(d) and 38–40)
43.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, and further disaggregated by accompanied or unaccompanied status, on the number of:
(a)Asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children;
(b)Asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children who are in detention;
(c)Asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children attending school and with access to health care.
44.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Children working in hazardous conditions;
(b)Cases of child labour investigated and leading to prosecution and the sanctions imposed on employers found to have been involved in child labour;
(c)Children in street situations.
45.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, and further disaggregated by the type of crime, on the number of:
(a)Children in detention, including in pretrial detention, in facilities such as police cells and prisons, and the average length of stay;
(b)Children referred to diversion and non-custodial sentencing options;
(c)Children detained together with adults and the average length of stay;
(d)Children who have been provided with access to rehabilitation and reintegration services.
J.Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
46.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Reported cases involving the sale of children, sexual exploitation of children in prostitution or use of children in pornographic performances and material;
(b)Such cases that have been investigated and led to prosecution and the sanctions imposed;
(c)Children who have been victims of such crimes who have been provided with recovery assistance or compensation.
K.Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict
47.Please provide data, disaggregated as described in paragraph 33 above, on the number of:
(a)Asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children entering the State party from areas where children may have been recruited or used in hostilities;
(b)Children who may have been recruited or used in hostilities abroad who benefit from physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration measures when returning.