Sierra Leone

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CountrySierra Leone
Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care and schools.
Overview of the child rights situation

The report from Sierra leone shows clearly that the Ebola outbreak has after-effects that hinder the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report is also very short and thus does not allow for a detailed assessment of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in many areas, such as child labour. One positive aspect is the attempt to make basic and secondary education free of charge.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

Despite the huge success of the Government’s efforts to include practitioners of female genital mutilation in the fight against submitting children to female genital mutilation, the Committee is seriously concerned that female genital mutilation is still practised and is not prohibited in law for children. Therefore, the Committee urges the State party to continue its fight with the assistance of former female practitioners of female genital mutilation to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation on children nationwide. Also, Sierra Leone should accelerate efforts and programmes to sensitize and assist practitioners of female genital mutilation to find alternative sources of income and encourage them to abandon the practice.

The Committee is seriously concerned at the high number of teenage pregnancies, the high number of unsafe and illegal abortions and the lack of adolescent-sensitive and confidential counselling services, including contraceptive services, and post-rape services. It is also concerned about the difficulties adolescents, especially boys, encounter in trying to access reproductive health care and information, including on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and the stigmatization and discrimination of teenage pregnancy.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee is seriously concerned at the insufficient measures in place to ensure that children with disabilities fully enjoy their rights, in particular with reference to health and education, and the inadequate number of specialized teachers and the limited number of school facilities and materials adapted to children with disabilities, as well as services and infrastructure available in order to ensure that education is truly inclusive. There is also a lack of comprehensive data on children with disabilities.
To improve the situation, the Committee urges the State party to, inter alia, set up a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities and ensure sufficient funding for the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, in particular to support children with disabilities. The Committee also urges Sierra Leone to support communities, local councils and NGO partners to build capacity for family and community-based care and support for children with disabilities and to ensure that children with disabilities have access to inclusive early childhood care and education, early development programmes, health care and other services, and ensure that such services receive adequate human, technical and financial resources.

Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolNo
physical health

To guarantee every child the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to reduce the maternal and under-5 mortality rates, especially by focusing on preventive measures and treatment, improved nutrition and sanitary conditions and the management of preventable diseases, such as cholera and malaria. Also, Sierra Leone should strengthen its efforts to allocate appropriate human, technical and financial resources to health care for mothers and children and provide adequate human and financial resources for special services for child Ebola survivors. In addition to that, it should strengthen its efforts to improve access to basic health-care services with trained health workers for children and pregnant women, especially in rural areas.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to ensure that accessible mental health and counselling services are available in the country and are sensitive to the needs of children and adolescents. It also recommends that orphans and child survivors of Ebola are provided with psychosocial counselling and support for reintegration into communities without any stigma or discrimination.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee recommends to cooperate with the widest range of stakeholders, in particular through its community-based structures such as village development committees and child welfare committees, including children, community and traditional leaders and all sectors of society, to promote social and cultural change and create an enabling environment that promotes equality among children.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee urges the State party to operationalize the age assessment guidelines and make sure that all the relevant stakeholders working with children receive training and copies of the guidelines. Furthermore, the Committee urges the State party to step up efforts to establish family courts across the country. Also, Sierra Leone should ensure that pretrial detention is used as a last resort only and for the shortest possible period of time, not exceeding six months, and that it is reviewed on a regular basis with a view to withdrawing it, and in cases where detention is not avoidable, Sierra Leone should ensure that children are not detained together with adults and that detention conditions are compliant with international standards, including with regard to access to education and health services. The Committee also urges to ensure the provision of qualified and independent legal aid to children in conflict with the law at an early stage of the procedure and throughout the legal proceedings.

Specific observations

The Committee recommends that the State party continue its efforts to register all children, especially those in rural areas, and ensure the integration of birth registration into the general civil registration reform programme.

The Committee also recommends to take immediate measures to combat corruption and strengthen institutional capacities to effectively detect and investigate cases of corruption and prosecute the perpetrators, including by putting in place the Public Expenditure Tracking Survey system in order to avoid diverting resources from the implementation of the Convention.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports released on 1 November 2016.More information about education in Sierra Leone: and and

Last Updated (date)2nd of March, 2022