Representatives of civil society organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations have expressed disappointment over what they consider as a controversial Development Cooperation Framework that has been introduced by the government of Sierra Leone.
On the 21st January, 2019, aggrieved civil society activists called a press conference at the Head Office of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Campbell Street in Freetown, where they stated in a press release that the new Development Cooperation Framework imposes what they described as “severe restrictions” on the rights to freedom of expression which are guaranteed under the international human rights law. They made specific reference to articles 19 and 22 of the international covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR) and articles 9(2), 10(1), and 10(2) of the African Charter on Human Rights, and said that these same rights are enshrined in chapter three, article 15(b) of the constitution of Sierra Leone.
The Civil Society Organizations also expressed disappointment over the numerous provisions in the Development Cooperation Framework, including but not limited to issues like the suggestion that the activities of all NGOs should be aligned with national priorities, submission of all development projects, affirmation by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and mandatory signing of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with Sector Ministries, among others.
Madam Marcella Samba, the Executive Director of the Campaign for Good Governance in Sierra Leone, said that CSOs are supposed to cooperate with the government in promoting democracy and governance, and added that they are not a tool of propaganda for any political party or ruling government. She said that the government should allow CSOs to become the bed rock of modern democracy in the country.
George Mustapha, the Programme Coordinator of the Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI), encouraged the media to support them in the implementation of the NGO policy in the country, and added that it helps CSOs to function effectively across the country.
Ibrahim Tommy, the Executive Director of the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) said that they are resilient in promoting accountability and the rule of law, adding that they are not entirely subjective and accountable to government in areas of conditions of service within the framework of the NGO policy.