State House, Monday 6 September 2021 – The new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh, has paid a courtesy call on His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and congratulated him on “ongoing institutional reforms in the country”.
The envoy, who took up office on 26 April after his appointment on March 26 this year by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, thanked President Bio for making time to meet him, adding that since his appointment he had visited almost all Heads of State in the ECOWAS region to get firsthand information on the political systems.
“My visit is to assess and know the governance successes and challenges and to provide support from the United Nations. The United Nations congratulates you on the abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of the Sexual Offences Courts”, he confirmed.
It could be recalled that on 24 July 2020, President Julius Maada Bio launched the country’s first-ever Sexual Offences Model Court and praised the great courage of survivors of Sexual and Gender-based Violence.
In his brief remarks, the President welcomed the UN special envoy, saying that the institutional reforms he talked about were needed to strengthen democracy in developing nations. He said that was why his government repealed the 55-year-old seditious libel section of the Public Order Act 1965 that criminalised free speech and stifled journalism.
He also informed Mr Saleh that his government had strengthened the sexual offences laws and abolished the death penalty in the country, which reinforced his earlier commitment to the belief in the sanctity of life of every citizen.
”I am very happy to receive you. My government has prioritised Human Capital Development as a tool for development because the most treasured mineral in the country is the people. We are investing in the education of our children because we want them to be productive in the economy. This may seem impossible to many, but it is possible,” he assured.
He said his government had done a lot in the last 3 years, adding that he hoped to do more. He, therefore, called on international partners and credible investors to help him translate his vision into developing Sierra Leone.
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