The Transitional Justice Working Group of Experts based in Ethiopia was created by the Ethiopian Minister of Justice to work on Public Consultation and to design a comprehensive policy on Transitional Security. This group, who are presently in Sierra Leone, today (17 August, 2023), had fruitful discussions with the Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Sierra Leone Police at the Conference Room of Police Headquarters, in Freetown.
Commissioner of Police – Kadiatu Samura (Head of SLP’s Peacekeeping Department), on behalf of the Executive Management Board, facilitated the dialogue session between the visiting team from Ethiopia and the host team of the Family Support Unit of the SLP.
Contributing to the dialogue session, the Head of the Family Support Unit, ACP Fatmata Kamara gave a brief background about the formation of the Unit in the SLP; which she said started as a small unit from Kissy Police station and now have presence country-wide. She added that they moved from 42 formations to now 82 formations nationwide;
and that the FSU has undergone lots of transformations which ranged from the enactment of the Gender Act which encapsulates the Domestic Violence Act 2007, to the Devolution of Estate Act, 2007, the Registration of the Customary Marriage Act and the Divorce Act 2009.
She furthered that the enactment of the Child Rights Act of 2006 broadened the mandate of the FSU to handle all offences perpetrated by and against Children.
Noting, that in 2008, the SLP together with the UNDP developed the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence guidelines and Case Management Manual for effective investigation of these offences.
ACP Kamara opined that in 2010, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was developed to guide investigation and to ensure that procedures are properly followed, she added.
She further spoke about development in legislation in 2012, with the enactment of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019, which introduced new offences such as Aggravated Sexual Assault, Solicitation, compromise and increased penalties on rape, among other offences.
That owning to the declaration of a State of Emergency on Sexual Violence, the FSU also established a special unit known as Sexual Assault Syndicate (SAS) charged with the responsibility to investigate all sexual assault cases, nationwide.
In conclusion, ACP Kamara described the successes of the Unit as exceptional in the fight against sexual-related offences in the country as most of these cases were charged to court and convictions were secured. This, she said, has made room for the general public to now willingly come out and report these cases to the Police for investigations.
Additionally, meaningful contributions were made by the Deputy Head of the Family Support Unit CSP Jenevieve Tity Cowan, who talked about the structure of the FSU and some of the activities the Unit has been engaged in winning the heart and minds of the community people to report these cases to the Police.
The Head of Data, Admin Officer and others also made meaningful contributions about the operations of the Unit; which thus account for its exceptional progress, amidst daunting challenges.
Questions for clarifications and further details were sought by the visiting team, which was adequately responded to. The visiting team expressed their delight about the whole dialogue and described the engagement as experience sharing.
In closing, Commissioner Kadie Samura thanked the Head of FSU and team for a wonderful discussion and exchange of ideas and wished the visiting team a pleasant stay in Sierra Leone.