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EU Delegation

The Ombudsman of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Leon Jenkins-Johnston and team on Tuesday 19th February 2019, has paid a courtesy call on the Head of the European Union delegation to Sierra Leone Ambassador Tom Vens at his Leicester Peak Office in Freetown.

Engaging the Ambassador, the Ombudsman Leon Jenkins-Johnston gave a brief background about the creation of Office of the Ombudsman. He said that he has concluded a regional tour to the provinces in December upon his assumption of office. He stated that the tour was to enable him assess the regional offices and to also meet with stakeholders.

He revealed that the task ahead is huge and that, with the late payment of allocation/subvention from government the institution would not be able to function properly and also will not be able to fully implement its strategic plan. He noted that he is seeking support from the international community to implement the Office’s strategic plan 2018-2022.

 He stated that he is faced with a huge challenge at the office as he has no qualified legal personnel apart from himself. He revealed that he will soon launch the Ombudsman’s Agenda to map out ways that institutions will follow. He furthered that Prison monitoring and unlawful arrest and detention are part of his priority areas.

He stated that he would have engagement with the Sierra Leone Police Force to resolve some of the issues received from them. He noted that the Office of the Ombudsman would want to be seen as an independent institution operating without external influence.

Responding the head of the European delegation to Sierra Leone Ambassador Tom Vens, said that the Office of the Ombudsman has a huge space to work on as Sierra Leone is a country with systemic weakness in almost all institutions in the country. He noted that, government institutions have structural weaknesses and that there has been no systemic approach to solve these problem.

He noted that the European Union is currently focused on Policy Dialogue, Political support and also working with other institutions and reforms i.e. supporting capacity building.

He furthered that the European Union has programs cycles and Country Strategy indicating their areas of support. He stated that their current areas of support are: Agriculture, Education and governance. He said that the education package support is done through the Ministry of Education through its management system.

He noted that the agricultural cycle is focused on creating viable opportunity for the agricultural sector and partnering with private institutions for the first time. He noted that the European Union also focuses on governance with budget support towards capacity building in institutions like National Electoral Commission, Decentralization Secretariat, District Councils and Civil Societies

He stated that the European Union has a clear policy on investment and it plans to allocate resources and conduct mid-term reviews on performance.

He revealed that the European Development Fund regulates and design dynamics that looks at performance. He stated that the European Union is currently reforming its agenda as it into elections in the coming months.

He however, encouraged the Ombudsman to work with the governance working group of the European Union delegation and highlight specific areas in the strategic plan as priority areas.

The Ombudsman thanked Ambassador Tom Vens for the reception and looks forward to working closely with the European Union Delegation.