Public lecture on human rights and the values of the Commonwealth to secondary school pupils, university students and vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone

Organised by Rashid Dumbuya (2013 Scholar from Sierra Leone, LLM Petroleum Law and Policy, University of Dundee) on behalf of theCommonwealth Alumni Chapter in Sierra Leone (CAASL).

Rashid Dumbuya holding a mic and delivering a talk in front of attendants

Rashid Dumbuya speaking to all attendants

Celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth, the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK, and Commonwealth Day in Sierra Leone were organised by alumnus Rashid Dumbuya in collaboration with LEGAL LINK, with support from the British Council.

Celebrations took the form of a public lecture on human rights and the values of the Commonwealth, with over 300 people in attendance. The public lecture was delivered by the CEO of LEGAL LINK, Rashid, a qualified international human rights lawyer. Among attendees were secondary school pupils, university students, and representatives of vulnerable groups and civil society organisations, Commonwealth Alumni, and Legal Link volunteers. The nature of the audience represented the importance of connectivity in achieving equal representation for all groups and individuals.

The public lecture took the form of a PowerPoint presentation detailing the human rights ideals, values, and shared principles of the Commonwealth and the need to enforce compliance on the same going forward. Rashid highlighted the need for the bi-annual summit of the Heads of States within the Commonwealth to be transformed into a peer review and reporting session on the compliance of states under the Commonwealth Charter. He also called for a judicial body to be established within the Commonwealth to investigate complaints of violation of the shared values and principles enshrined in the Charter and to hold states accountable over such violations. Following the presentation, the audience endorsed the need for greater reforms within the modern Commonwealth in a bid to make this a more robust entity.

Tony Railly, Director of British Council Sierra Leone, welcomed attendees and emphasised the role of the Commonwealth and the British Council towards the educational sector in Sierra Leone. Andrew Johnson Esq, a member of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, thanked the Commonwealth on behalf of the Sierra Leone Bar Association for all the scholarship support it has provided to lawyers in Sierra Leone over the years. He further called on the law students present to take advantage of the available opportunities to further their studies and come back to support the country.

President for the Society for the Welfare of the Aged, Mr Gbenga thanked the Commonwealth for the educational support provided to the children of the aged and emphasised on how this support has contributed to the increased life span of older generations. As part of his presentation he called on the Commonwealth not to forget the welfare of the aged and to lobby the government of Sierra Leone to pass laws that will protect the rights and welfare of the aged. Pastor Gift, a representative of the inter-religious council of Sierra Leone, commended the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK for the educational support provided to the students of Sierra Leone. He called on the wider Commonwealth not to forget the Inter-religious Council in terms of specialised training and support.

Photos from the event are available on CSC Flickr

Photos on flickr

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