As part of efforts to connect Parliamentarians with their constituents, two constituency engagements were organized under the auspices of the Freedom of Religion or Belief Leadership Network (F0RBLN) programme in Freetown, Sierra Leone on the 24th of November 2023. This was facilitated by ACEPA where members of the Sierra Parliamentary Caucus on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) had the opportunity to, first sensitize their constituents on the issues of FoRB that pertain to their communities, and also listen to their constituents’ pressing concerns as they relate to FoRB.
The engagements took place in two constituencies, in Wilberforce Village and Aberdeen, both suburbs in Freetown. Participants were largely young men and women from the two constituencies. Traditional chiefs and local councilors were represented in both places. Interestingly, in Wilberforce, police personnel also participated in the meeting. The MPs in both places emphasized the need to build on the peace Sierra Leone currently enjoy by propagating religious tolerance, respect for minority groups and eschew discrimination of all forms. It was noted that while the people of Sierra Leone exhibit a high level of religious tolerance which is manifested in intermarriages and celebration of religious festival together as one, this seeming harmonious relationship between various religious faiths does not translate into political tolerance.
During plenary discussions, key issues broached included the fact that notwithstanding the general atmosphere of religious tolerance, there are pockets of inter and intra religious tensions, additionally, the youth are plagued with joblessness that leads them into all kinds of anti-social behaviors including hate speech and resentment of the “other’’. Drug abuse was cited as a major pandemic if not tackled, has the potential to destabilase the social fabric of
The Members of parliament promised to take up the issues that came up and work collaboratively with their colleagues to find a lasting solution to the issues raised.