|dc.description.abstract||Disabled youth encounter systemic social injustice, social exclusion, social inequality, bias, anti-discrimination, and unjust incarceration within society and the justice system. In Sierra Leone, a developing country emerging from a decade-long civil war (1991-2002), these challenges, attitudes, and perceptions towards disabled people have persisted, despite the implementation of a post-conflict peacebuilding agenda that included justice sector reforms. Although Sierra Leone ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability on October 4, 2010, and the Persons with Disability Act entered into force in March 2011, there remains a challenge in addressing issues affecting disabled people. To date, as a significant number of youth with disabilities roam the streets, the country still lacks an effective mechanism of restorative justice to help those with disabilities in conflict with the law.
The MRP argues that the challenges have persisted in Sierra Leone because of a confluence of social, institutional, and capacity problems which were compounded by the civil war and neglected in post-conflict reform efforts. At the institutional level, Sierra Leone has a weak sociolegal and justice framework, incapable of addressing the welfare and concerns of people with disability, particularly youth who come in conflict with the law. While there are desirable policies and rules at the formal level, the justice system lacks the requisite training, facilities, and resources to uphold the rights of disabled people and its operation often exacerbates their plight. The failure to prioritize these concerns has also meant that societal prejudices, reinforced by poor socioeconomic conditions, have prevailed with little social assistance to families and communities. Since the war ended, successive governments have devoted their limited resources to the pressing issues of security and justice, often at the expense of the concerns and needs of disabled people. This lack of attention to the peculiar needs and circumstances of disabled people must, however, are placed within the context of a weak post-conflict economy, collapsed infrastructure, and the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes and practices in society. In this context, cultural belief systems and policies which stigmatize disabled people thrive as communities and families look for excuses not to devote their limited resources to society’s most vulnerable members.||en_US