from TETEH KAMARA in Freetown, Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, (CAJ News) – THE Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS’) rejection of a ban imposed by Sierra Leone preventing pregnant girls from sitting examinations and attending mainstream school has been welcomed as a landmark moment for thousands of affected girls .
Their right to access education without discrimination has been violated for the past four years because of the ban.
ECOWAS’ Community Court of Justice sitting in Abuja, Nigeria has rejected the ban.
The court ruled that the policy barring pregnant school girls from attending mainstream schools amounted to discrimination against pregnant school girls in Sierra Leone, breached provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights and other international law instruments to which Sierra Leone is a party.
It ordered the policy to be revoked with immediate effect.
“It (ruling) is also a glimmer of hope for all those girls who if pregnant in the future will not be punished by being forced to leave school and not being able to sit exams,” said Marta Colomer, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Acting Deputy Director of Campaigns.
Colomer said the ECOWAS ruling also delivered a clear message to other African governments who have similar bans or might be contemplating them.
“Authorities in Sierra Leone must now implement this judgment without delay,” the activist stated.
In 2017, some human rights groups filed a case before the ECOWAS Court to challenge the ban.
– CAJ News