By Betty Milton | Information Attache Belgium
The Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, Kingdom of Netherlands, France, Greece, Dutch-of Luxemburg, Vatican and European Union Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa has met with Mr. Richard Young, Head of West Africa division of the European union External Action Services (EEAS).
The meeting was held at the EEAS Building in Schuman, Brussels.
In his remarks, Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa thanked Mr. Richard YOUNG, Head of Division, and his team for accepting the Embassy’s request for a meeting.
Stating further that the meeting is geared towards establishing a direct link with the EEAS and to inform the team about some of the transformations taking place in Sierra Leone, noting the opportunities and challenges and possibility of intensifying cooperation.
The Ambassador noted the importance to connect with the Department directly as to exchange ideas and build relationships and the need for the two sides to continue their collaboration to help Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Musa stated that as Mr. Richard YOUNG has toured and worked a lot in Africa, he must be familiar with the situations in the continent, revealing that Sierra Leone has achieved a lot of transformation through the partnership with the European Union.
The issues raised by the Sierra Leone Ambassador Samuel Tamba Musa included the EU-SL Cooperation, the MIP and current pipeline, digitalization- building scientific and technological capacity, Green deal operationalization, Infrastructure support, Investment plans and Schengen Visa (EEAS).
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador highlight some of the achievements made by the Government as it has removed the death penalty from the law books and has also repealed the libel law which was an impediment to the practice of journalism in Sierra Leone.
In the area of peace, he stressed “the Government has set up Peace Commission following peace conference involving key stakeholders including all political parties and civil society for the consolidation of peace in the country”.
The government has rolled out the free quality education and developed a digitalization strategy and is committed to reinforcing the support for the digital technologies and services such as access to education, health and governance.
Further revealing that the government is deepening decentralization and has revised the Sexual offences act, set up the Sexual offences court and at an advanced stage with the gender empowerment bill.
On the issue of the Schengen Visa he said this remains a thorny issue in Sierra Leone as people have to travel out of Sierra Leone to be issued with visa. That ways be explored to see how the EU could help facilitate the issuance of Schengen visa in Freetown.
In his statement, the Head of the EEAS West Africa division, Mr. Richard Young expressed satisfaction for the initiative taken to visit by the Ambassador and delegation.
He commended the Government for the steps taken in the various areas highlighted by the Ambassador.
Noting that the death penalty is of concern to the EU given the challenges associated with situations where there are weak judicial systems, and where a person will not be given a second chance when once they have been sentenced so he appreciated the effort of the government.
He highlighted the priority areas for the EU including Human capital development, energy, education and the environment, which are being elaborated between the EU delegation and the government of Sierra Leone.
On the issue of the Schengen Visa, Mr. Young highlighted the challenges associated with the Schengen visa issue on the EU side. And that this issue he emphasized, requires careful dialogue.
The EEAS is the European Union’s diplomatic service. It helps the EU’s foreign affairs chief – the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – carry out the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.