This book offers an up-to-date, comprehensive interdisciplinary analysis of the multifaceted and evolving experiences of human rights in Sierra Leone between the years 1787 and 2016. It provides a balanced coverage of the local and international conditions that frame the socio-cultural, political, and economic context of human rights: its rise and fall, and concerns for the broader engendered issues of the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, women’s struggle for recognition, constitutional development, political independence, war, and transitional justice (as well as "contributive justice," which the author introduces to explain the consequences of the problems of the temporal nature of transitional justice, and the crisis of donor fatigue towards peacebuilding activities), local government, democracy, and constitutional reforms within Sierra Leone. While acknowledging the profound challenges associated with the promotion of human rights in an environment of uncertainty, political fragility, lawlessness, and deprivation, John Idriss Lahai sheds light on the often-constructive engagement of the people of Sierra Leone with a variety of societal conditions, adverse or otherwise, to influence constitutional change, the emergent post-coflict discourse on "contributive justice," and acceptable human rights practice.
This book will be of interest to scholars in West African history, legal history, African studies, peace and conflict studies, human rights and transitional justice.
Table of Contents
Foreword; Introduction; 1. The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Illusions of "Freedom," 1787–1790; 2. The Restitutive Justice Policy of the Sierra Leone Company, 1791–1808; 3. No Taxation without Representation, 1820–1920; 4. Citizens and Protected Persons, 1920–1951; 5. Racism and the Rise of Party Politics, 1950–1960; 6. Class Conflict: Chiefs, Politicians, and Peasants and the Revolts of 1955 and 1956; 7. Women in the Colonial Spaces: From the Founding of the Colony to 1960; 8. Political Independence and the Africanization Project, 1960–1967; 9. The Narratives on Human Rights in a Neopatrimonial State, 1967–1984; 10. Ethnopolitics, Tribal-Nationalism, and the Youth Empowerment Crisis, 1985–1991; 11. (Wo)Men’s Rights in the Neopatrimonial/Ethnopolitical Spaces, 1967–1991; 12. The Idea of Liberation in the War Communities, 1991–2002: Representation, Adaptation, and Outcomes; 13. Contested Truth: The Truth Commission and Restorative Justice, 2002–2004; 14. The War Victims’ Fund and the Emergence of Contributive Justice after 2004; 15. The Quest for Another Province of Freedom: The Human Rights Commission and the Constitutional Review Committee, 1994–2016; 16. Conclusion
John Idriss Lahai is a Research Fellow at the University of New England, Australia.
Featured Author Profiles
'John Idriss Lahai has written a challenging book in all the best senses of the term. Students of Sierra Leonean history will find in Human Rights in Sierra Leone a thoughtful, nuanced account that is unusual, even unique, in scope. Lahai isn’t afraid to read history, human rights discourse, and political theory against the grain, and he does so to powerful effect in these chapters. For anyone prepared to think critically about human rights and postcolonial politics, in Sierra Leone and beyond, Lahai is an extraordinary guide.'
Professor Daniel J. Hoffman, University of Washington, author of The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia (Duke University Press, 2011)
'In its modern form, Sierra Leone began as a by-product of an international human rights crusade, but in practical terms the idea that all human beings everywhere are entitled to liberty, the pursuit of happiness and government of their choice – the essence of human rights – was not widely shared, even by some of those who led that crusade. In Human Rights in Sierra Leone 1787–2016, John Idriss Lahai attempts to do something audacious: provide a comprehensive account of the struggle to actualise the imperatives of human rights in Sierra Leone from its beginning as a modern state to the present, a period of over 220 years, during which time human rights in practical terms had undergone several changes of meaning. Thus, he provides considerable space for a discussion of gender issues, ‘liberation’ in civil war affected communities, and transitional justice – perhaps the best chapters in this ambitious book. Dr. Lahai’s book is a valuable contribution to the literature on the history and politics of Sierra Leone, shedding important new lights on some of the country’s foundational and continuing anxieties.'
Dr Lansana Gberie, author of A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone (Indiana University Press, 2005)