Statement on the Death of a 9 Year Old Sierra Leonean Girl

The UN Country Team (UNCT) in Sierra Leone is shocked by recent media reports that a nine-year-old girl died, allegedly as a result of a forced initiation in Bongama on 17 May. The UNCT calls on the government to conduct a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the girl’s death and to bring those responsible to justice. In this regard, the UNCT welcomes the steps taken by the government authorities to investigate the case, and notes that an individual has been taken into police custody. The UNCT also conveys it heartfelt sympathy to the family of the victim.

Without commenting on the specific facts of this case, it is the UNCT position that domestic law in Sierra Leone is clear that there should be no female genital mutilation on children under the age of 18 years. Further, the UNCT recalls Sierra Leone’s commitment during the Universal Periodic Review in May 2011, and in line with its international obligations, that Sierra Leone should urgently: adopt measures to eradicate female genital mutilation, and conduct enhanced and robust awareness raising campaigns, particularly among families and traditional leaders, of its harmful effects.

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United Nations Office in Sierra Leone