The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has lamented that several Sierra Leonean citizens, who work in the financial sector, especially commercial banks continue to face serious human rights abuses.
In a report following an investigation conducted recently, the organization said they recorded a high number of the alleged abuses, which can qualify for possible legal actions against commercial banks.
CHRDI Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma urged those working in the banking sector to come forward and share their stories with them.
He cited Ecobank Sierra Leone, where he alleged that after working a full week (Monday to Friday), staff were forced to also work on Saturday and Sunday throughout the months of May and June without any additional pay and rest.
"Young mothers are forced to abandon their children and families over the weekend. Some can’t even attend church. We believe that this is nothing short of inhumane. Many of the direct human rights risks and issues faced by the finance sector are generic to all businesses, such as those relating to the treatment of employees," he said.
According to him, evidence they have gathered from staff and victims of human rights abuses in the banking sector confirmed that corruption disproportionately impacts the poor more than the rich in Sierra Leone.
He alleged that banks have been engaged in shady activities, for which the Bank of Sierra Leone is yet to provide them satisfactory explanations.
Fatoma said there is a strong public suspicion that commercial banks in Sierra Leone were in the habit of diverting state revenues into private ownership.
"There is widespread and systematic corruption within the banking sector in Sierra Leone. Accountability and transparency needs to be restored to the financial services industry, as confidence in the economy is built on the essential pillar of trust. The financial industry must not be able to commit and profit from controlled fraud and money laundering, despite this is becoming a way of life for some bankers," he alleged.
He pledged CHRDI’s continued commitment to the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone, wherever it occurs, as well as a critical part of their work to end extreme poverty.