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Title: Sierra Leone Human Rights Practices, 1995 Author: U.S. Department of State Date: March 1996 SIERRA LEONE Sierra Leone is a republic governed by a military junta, the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). The NPRC, which rules by decree, seized power in 1992 in a military coup which ousted then-President Joseph Momoh. Captain Valentine E.M. Strasser was chairman of the NPRC, Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and Secretary of State for Defense throughout the year. He was deposed in a palace coup in January 1996. The 4-year civil war and the collapse of law and order have caused more than 14,000 deaths, including an estimated 3,600 in 1995. The war has also forced an estimated 2.4 million persons, more than 50 percent of the population, into exile in refugee camps or facilities for the internally displaced. Under the NPRC, the 1991 Constitution remained in force but with the suspension of some of its provisions. In June the NPRC lifted the 10- year ban on political parties, but at the same time issued a decree banning 57 individuals from political activity for a period of 10 years. Elections were planned for February 1996, and at year's end, the Government and the Interim National Election Commission were seeking international donor support to finance voter registration and elections. The Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF), supported by Western Area Security Patrols and the regular police force, are responsible for both external and internal security. The RSLMF, supported by the Nigerian and Guinean armies and a private South African mercenary firm Executive Outcomes, continued active operations against rebel forces, known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), led by Foday Sankoh. The RUF claims to seek the overthrow of the NPRC. The Government has acknowledged that in addition to its operations against the RUF, it must also contend with renegade RSLMF soldiers and some civilians. While the RSLMF made significant progress in operations against the RUF, it sustained casualties in numerous bloody attacks on villages and vehicles in the Eastern and Southern provinces, and in some areas of the Northern province. During the first half of the year, rebel forces unsuccessfully attacked villages on the outskirts of Freetown. In October the RSLMF briefly retook Kailahun district in the east, but lost it in an RUF counterattack after less than 2 weeks' occupation. There were reported human rights abuses by all parties to the internal conflict, including summary executions and torture. Some members of the police and military also committed human rights abuses outside the war zone. A number of RSLMF personnel, including officers, were court- martialed for offenses ranging from theft to murder. Sierra Leone is a very poor country. Before the war, more than 70 percent of the 4.5 million citizens were involved in some aspect of agriculture, mainly subsistence farming. Although the country is rich in minerals, including rutile (titanium dioxide), diamonds, gold, and bauxite, official receipts from legal exports of gold and diamonds have decreased over recent years, and rutile and bauxite mining ceased at the beginning of the year due to rebel activity. Significant portions of the gold and diamonds are smuggled abroad. Although Government forces with the assistance of Executive Outcomes recaptured the rutile mine and the major diamond producing areas from rebel control by mid-year, Government revenues from the mineral sector were still far below preconflict levels. The Government's human rights record improved somewhat, although serious problems remain in certain areas. Most abuses, including extrajudicial killings by RSLMF and rebel units, were committed chiefly, though not exclusively, in the area of armed conflict. The NPRC lifted its ban on political parties but continued to maintain control over government, social affairs, and the judiciary. Authorities continued to restrict freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association, but to a lesser degree than previously. There were reports of disappearances, and security forces abused suspects during arrest and interrogation. There were prolonged pretrial detentions and lengthy delays in trials. Citizens do not have the right to change their government. Discrimination and violence against women remain widespread, as does violence against children. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing Both government forces and RUF rebels engaged in these abuses. Government forces often tortured and killed suspected rebels. There were reports that undisciplined military and other security personnel killed civilians while engaged in looting, robbery, and extortion (see Section 1.g.) The military court-martialed two soldiers for murder in connection with looting. It sentenced one to prison and dishonorable discharge from the army. The Head of State had not yet confirmed this sentence. At year's end, the court martial of the other was in progress. Another soldier was found guilty of killing a fellow soldier in a drug-related incident and sentenced to death. The Head of State had yet to confirm this sentence and she remains in custody. Their trials were still in progress at year's end. In January RUF rebels attacked the Northern town of Kambia, reportedly killing 15 civilians, including the daughter of a local chief and a former policeman. In March rebels summarily executed 18 relatives of a senior NPRC official in the Southern province. In June an armed group of men attacked Port Loko, killing approximately 100-150 people. In September and October, rebels in the Southern province near Bo reportedly barricaded villagers in their huts and burned them alive. The rebels also amputated the hands of several villagers and sent them to Bo with the message that this would now prevent them from voting (see Section l.g.). b. Disappearance Reports continued of disappearances of captured persons who were suspected to be rebels. Senior NPRC and RSLMF officials have stated publicly and privately that suspected rebels, both military and civilian, are to be brought to army headquarters for intelligence interrogation. During operations in the Southern province in September and October, the army captured more than 100 rebel combatants, incarcerating them at army headquarters in Freetown. Guinean authorities arrested four high ranking RUF officials in November and turned them over to the RSLMF. It held them at army headquarters at year's end. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Although the Constitution prohibits torture, the police and military mistreated suspects during arrest and interrogation. Authorities sometimes beat detainees or mutilated them prior to incarceration or judicial proceedings. Military personnel engaged in combat operations sometimes physically abused civilians (see Section l.g.). The Government occasionally punished them for such abuses. The Government worked to improve the diet and medical care in prisons throughout the year, but conditions at times remained life threatening. Detainee cells often lack beds or toilet facilities. Despite the authorities' attempts to relieve the situation, overcrowding is the norm at Freetown's Pademba Road prison. In January the Government released 76 inmates from the Eastern province who were suspected of being rebels. The Attorney General's office conducted an ongoing review of detentions at Pademba Road, an overcrowded prison whose conditions are of particular concern because shortcomings in the legal system often result in prolonged pretrial detention there. Male and female inmates are imprisoned separately, but together with juveniles. Homosexual rape is common. The Government continued to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to prisoners, including alleged rebels. d. Arbitrary arrest, Detention, or Exile In practice, the Government does not provide adequate safeguards against arbitrary or unjust detentions, nor for their formal review. By law, after an initial 24-hour detention, detainees must have access to legal counsel, families, and medical care, but authorities rarely obey the law unless detainees can afford legal counsel to demand compliance. In July authorities detained a teacher's union official and a journalist for 10 days without charge; the union official for allegedly subversive speech at a press conference and the journalist for reporting it. The Government did not detain other journalists who reported the same speech. Police and military officials have additional detention authority. Under NPRC decrees, higher-ranking police and military officials may arrest without warrant and detain indefinitely any person suspected of posing a threat to public safety. In practice, soldiers do arrest or detain civilians without charge. The military authorities do not formally notify relatives, but they do generally respond to inquiries. Arrested foreigners are often released but may not depart the country. The Government provides legal representation for the indigent only in cases of capital offenses. Lack of counsel in other cases frequently leads to wrongful conviction. Many indigent detainees are ignorant of their rights and assume, sometimes correctly, that law enforcement or judicial authorities will be paid by the accuser to rule against them. The Society for the Protection of Human Rights provides free legal counsel to some indigent detainees, and some local nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) provide counsel and advice to women concerning their rights. Nineteen of the 24 former Government officials who were placed under house arrest in 1994 for failing to repay funds the Government said they had embezzled while in office remained under house arrest. The rest were released from house arrest, but were among the 57 individuals banned from political activity for 10 years (see Section 2.b.). The Government did not use exile. However, some officials of the former regime chose to leave the country, while others remain abroad rather than return to face possible retribution. In July 1994, the NPRC Attorney General resigned and went into self-imposed exile in England to protest the Government's imposition of the death penalty. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The NPRC can effectively control the judiciary. There is strong evidence that favoritism plays a role in court decisions. The NPRC, like governments that preceded it, employed special commissions of inquiry to circumvent the judiciary. There are three judicial systems: regular courts; local or traditional courts; and courts-martial. Courts-martial try only military cases. The regular court system is based on the British model and consists of a Supreme Court, an intermediate Court of Appeals, a High Court of Magistrates, and Magistrates' Courts. There are criminal and civil courts. Decisions by lower courts may be appealed in the high courts. There are delays of up to 5 years in bringing some cases to trial. Judges in the regular court system may serve until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 65, unless their appointment is revoked prior to that time. There were no known instances of judges being fired or transferred for political reasons. Elected indigenous leaders preside over the local courts and administer tribal law in civil cases, for example, dealing with family and property matters. These local courts are often the only legal institutions in rural areas. Fighting in the Eastern and Southern provinces severely hampered the functioning of the local court system in those areas. The court-martial system, based on British military codes and common law, provides for commander adjudication of minor offenses. Soldiers accused of more serious offenses are transferred from field units to Headquarters. A number of courts martial were convened against officers and enlisted personnel for looting, murder, and dereliction of duty. In 1994 a senior officer convicted of aiding the enemy was sentenced to death by the standing court martial. The sentence, which is subject to review by the Head of State, has not been carried out. Minimum due process rights are not always respected. Authorities sometimes beat detainees, and mutilate or otherwise punish them prior to incarceration or to a court hearing (see Section 1.c.). In addition, the regular court system accepts and sanctions provisions of tribal, traditional, and Islamic law which discriminate against women and minorities. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence Although the Constitution prohibits arbitrary invasion of the home, the authorities still have broad authority under NPRC decrees to monitor actions or conversations within homes, to prevent a person from acting in a manner deemed prejudicial to public safety, to impose restrictions on employment or business, to control association or communication with other persons, and to interfere with correspondence. In practice, there were numerous occasions of abusive treatment of ordinary citizens by ill-disciplined soldiers and police, both within and outside the war zone. These abuses included forced entry into homes, robberies, and assaults, some of which were fatal. A number of soldiers accused of looting were court-martialed. One lieutenant found guilty of looting was sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment. Sixteen soldiers arrested for an attempted robbery were detained and awaited court-marital at year's end (see Section 1.e.). g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts There were serious violations of humanitarian law in the internal conflict throughout the war zone, chiefly summary executions of prisoners and noncombatants, and torture and killing of civilians. RSLMF forces continued to engage RUF forces, which at the outset of the conflict were supported in part by Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front for Liberia, but now are entirely Sierra Leonean. The RSLMF also fought bandits and groups of Sierra Leonean military deserters. The conflict involves multiple ethnic groups and has resulted in an estimated 14,000 deaths since 1991. Also, an estimated 1.7 to 2.1 million Sierra Leoneans have been displaced internally or are living as refugees in neighboring countries because of the war. Guinean and Nigerian troops serve with the Sierra Leonean military. Government troops committed many abuses against suspected rebels and their noncombatant supporters, including summary executions of prisoners. The RSLMF engaged in public humiliation and torture of captives, including disfigurement, beating, and parading captives naked, and sometimes displayed human skulls as trophies. In its air operations against RUF targets, the Government destroyed some villages and killed an undetermined number of civilians. The rebels also committed numerous abuses of international humanitarian law against civilians, RSLMF soldiers, and their mercenary advisors. In a February attack, the military aide to the Head of State, the expatriate commander of the mercenary advisory group, and several other individuals were killed by rebels in an ambush. None of the bodies was ever recovered, and reports indicated later that they were mutilated and put on display in rebel-held areas. In March RUF rebels summarily executed 18 relatives of a senior NPRC official in the Southern province. In a June attack at Port Loko in which rebels killed approximately 100 to 150 people, rebels used the bodies of slain villagers as barricades across the road entering the town. Among the rebels, most ethnic groups are represented, but Mende and Kissy groups predominate. Attacks by armed men on vehicles along the main roads from Freetown, particularly the road to Bo in the south and Kenema in the Eastern province, severely restricted delivery of relief food and other supplies to displaced persons in areas outside Freetown. The Government did not formally authorize the ICRC to deliver food assistance to rebel-controlled areas, but did not prevent them from doing so. There appears to have been little ethnically motivated violence in the hostilities to date. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press Although the Constitution provides for freedom of speech, the Government abridges freedom of expression if it deems national security to be endangered. Criticizing government leaders or offending the dignity of the state are criminal offenses. Although the military regime can severely restrict freedom of speech, there was nonetheless some criticism of the Government in the press and in other forums (see Section 1.d.). The Government has not always attempted to halt these challenges, although the Government detained and questioned a journalist who printed remarks from a press conference criticizing the Government for hiring South African mercenaries to fight the war, holding him for 10 days without charge (see Section 1.d.). A theater director reported that the inspector general of police refused to permit the staging of a production because the names of some characters were politically sensitive. Three other theater directors claimed that the police demanded to see scripts of their productions before granting them performance permits. A seditious libel case brought by the Government against employees of a newspaper which printed a controversial editorial in October 1993 was settled in August. The court found the defendants guilty, fined and released them. Despite strict registration and publication requirements, newsprint shortages, and a shortage of trained and professional journalists, there were 13 newspapers at year's end. Journalists continued to suffer threats and intimidation by government authorities. In January police arrested the president and a board member of the journalists' association and interrogated them for 7 hours about the 1991 publication of the RUF national anthem. In March a journalist was arrested and held for 10 days without charge in connection with the publication of a photograph of an RSLMF captain who had defected to the RUF. In April a freelance photojournalist was arrested and questioned about photographs he took showing government troops torturing prisoners. Because of continuing verbal harassment by a senior NPRC official after his release, the journalist went into hiding. In September police arrested two journalists, human rights monitor and editor Paul Kamara, and fellow newspaper editor Vandi Kallon. Police accused both of giving the enemy useful information, but subsequently released them without formal charge. The Government continued to require that all news reports concerning the country's internal conflict be submitted to the Department of Defense for approval prior to publication or broadcast. Many journalists exercise self-censorship. One of the capital's two radio stations is government-controlled and reflects only the views of the Government. The other is operated by Christian missionaries and broadcasts religious programming and Voice of America news. Two more privately owned stations operate in the provinces. The Government owns and operates the only television station. There were no reports of detention of educators or threats to them for their teaching activities. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The 1991 Constitution provides for freedom of assembly as well as the right to form political, economic, social, and professional organizations. The NPRC lifted its ban on political parties in June, but banned 57 individuals from participation in political activities for a period of 10 years (see Section l.d.). The NPRC permitted peaceful demonstrations, routinely granting the required permits. c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation There were no legal restrictions on travel within the country, but unsafe conditions often prevented travel outside Freetown and the western peninsula. Personnel at military and paramilitary checkpoints also delayed travel, frequently demanding bribes. NPRC decrees permit senior police and military officers to stop and question any person. Exit visas are required for anyone except diplomats seeking to travel outside the country. There are no restrictions on emigration or repatriation. Continuing conflict internally displaced as many as 1.7 million persons during 1995, reducing food production and placing a severe strain on the economy. In addition to the internally displaced, an estimated 400,000 Sierra Leoneans sought refuge in Guinea and Liberia. Sierra Leone continued to host approximately 5,000 Liberian refugees. The Government did not force refugees to repatriate to countries in which they fear persecution, but does not provide a formal process for granting political asylum. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change their Government Citizens do not have this right. The NPRC controls all government institutions and appoints all senior government officials. The NPRC is composed of the Supreme Council of State (SCS), and the Council of Secretaries of State. The SCS formulates government policy, serving as a de facto legislature; day-to-day government operations are overseen by the department secretaries, who make up the Cabinet. In late September, military authorities charged nine junior level NPRC bodyguards with coup-plotting in Freetown; they await court-martial. In January 1996 Brigadier Bio deposed Captain Strasser as Chairman of the NPRC. The RUF has publicly vowed to block elections in Sierra Leone, but does not appear to promote a coherent political philosophy (see Section 1.a.). Women are underrepresented in the Government. A woman heads the Department of Education, only the second female cabinet level official in the country's history. The two largest cities have female mayors. Some senior civil service, police, and judicial positions are held by women. There are no female NPRC members. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights The Government allows one local human rights group, the League for Human Rights and Democracy, to exist, and several local NGO's are active in defense of women's rights (see Section 1.d.). There is a local chapter of Amnesty International in Freetown. The Government also allowed the ICRC to visit prisoners in Pademba Road Prison and suspected rebels in various military barracks. It granted Amnesty International access to all prisoners which it requested to visit. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status The Constitution prohibits discrimination against women and provides some protection against official discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity, except for the prohibition against citizenship for persons with a non-African father. This provision effectively blocks citizenship and political participation by the Lebanese community, persons of Afro-Lebanese descent, and persons with non-African fathers. On occasion, government commissions have publicized an intent to change this provision of the Constitution, but have met strong public protest. Women Violence against women, especially wife beating, is common. The police are unlikely to intervene in domestic disputes except in cases of severe injury or death. Few cases of such violence go to court. Sierra Leone does not recognize domestic violence against women as a societal problem and the Government gives it little high-level attention. Rape remains a recognized societal problem. It is punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment. The Government does enforce this law. The Constitution provides for equal rights for women, but in practice women face both legal and societal discrimination. Their rights and status under traditional law vary significantly, depending upon the ethnic group. The Temne and Limba tribes of the north, for example, afford greater rights to a woman to inherit property than do the Mende, who give preference to male heirs and unmarried daughters. In the north, on the other hand, women cannot become paramount chiefs. In the south, there are a number of female paramount chiefs. Women do not have equal access to education, economic opportunities, health facilities, or social freedoms. In rural areas women perform much of the subsistence farming, all of the child rearing, and have little opportunity for education. The average educational level for women is markedly below that of men; only 6 percent are literate. At the university level, men predominate. Women Organized for an Enlightened Nation, a local NGO, seeks to educate women throughout the country on their civil rights and responsibilities. The group met with the Interim National Electoral Commission and gained additional representation for women at the National Consultative Conference in August. A Women's Bureau in the Department of Health and Social Services concerned itself with women's issues in the country at large, but was largely ineffective due to lack of resources and training. Every government department, including State House, is mandated to have a coordinator for women's affairs work with the Women's Bureau to monitor treatment of women employees, but few perform effectively. Children The Government has made modest efforts to address, with the help of NGO's, the integration of "boy soldiers" back into society. Many underage boys were allowed to join military operations early in the war. The rebel forces routinely conscript young men and women into their ranks when they attack rural villages. The malnutrition rate among children, according to Medecins sans Frontieres, is extremely high, an estimated 29 percent, while child mortality is also high, and increasing. Instances of ritual murders of boys and girls, as well as adults, associated with animist religious groups in the provinces, continued. The press reported these murders widely, and they were openly discussed in public. The Government arrested several ritual murder suspects in 1995, but did not publicize any information about their court cases. Given the state of the judiciary, these cases, like many others, are still pending. Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is widely practiced on girls at a young age, especially in traditional tribal groups and among the less educated. While one independent expert in the field estimates the percentage of females who have undergone this procedure may be as high as 80 percent, local groups believe that this figure is overstated. Membership in female secret societies which practice FGM in their initiation rites has been declining. People with Disabilities Questions of public facility access and discrimination against the disabled have not become public policy issues. The Department of Education has, however, an official whose function is to implement the mainstreaming of students with learning disabilities. No laws mandate accessibility to buildings or provide for other assistance for the disabled. There does not appear to be outright discrimination against the disabled in housing or education, but with the high rate of unemployment, few disabled persons work in offices or factories. The difficulty disabled people face in finding employment places many facilities and services beyond their financial means. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities The Government does not officially approve of discrimination among people of different ethnic groups, but ethnic loyalty remains an important factor in government, military, and business. Complaints of corruption and ethnic discrimination in government appointments, contracts, military commissions, and promotions are common. Residents of non-African descent face institutionalized political restrictions. The Constitution restricts citizenship to people of Negro-African descent following a patrilineal pattern, effectively denying citizenship to many persons, notably in the Lebanese community, the largest affected minority. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association Unions have continued their activities under the NPRC. The Constitution provides for the right of association, and all workers, including civil servants, have the right to join trade unions of their choice. Unions are independent of the Government. Individual labor unions have by custom joined the Sierra Leone Labor Congress (SLLC), and all unions are members of it. Membership is, however, voluntary. There is no legal prohibition against the SLLC leadership holding political office, and leaders have held both elected and appointed government positions. Under the Trade Union Act, any five persons may form a trade union by applying to the Registrar of Trade Unions, who has statutory powers under the act to approve the creation of trade unions. The Registrar may reject applications for several reasons, including an insufficient number of members, proposed representation in an industry already served by an existing union, or incomplete documentation. If the Registrar rejects an application, his decision may be appealed in the ordinary courts, but applicants seldom take such action. Approximately 60 percent of workers in urban areas, including government employees, are unionized, but unions have had little success in organizing workers in the agricultural and mining sectors. Unions have the right to strike without exception, but the Government may require 21 days' notice. NPRC decrees which prohibit disruption of public tranquility or disruption of supplies could be employed to prevent a prolonged strike. Although union members may be fired for participating in even a lawful strike, no such incidents were reported. Unions are free to form federations and confederations and affiliate internationally. The SLLC is a member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and there are no restrictions on the international travel or contacts of trade unionists. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The legal framework for collective bargaining is the Regulation of Wages and Industrial Relations Act. Collective bargaining must take place in trade group negotiating councils, each of which has an equal number of employer and worker representatives. Most enterprises are covered by collective bargaining agreements on wages and working conditions. The SLLC provides assistance to unions in preparing for negotiations. In case of a deadlock, the Government may intervene. It has not, however, used decrees to prevent strikes. No law prohibits retribution against strikers. Should an employee be fired for union activities, he or she may file a complaint with a labor tribunal and seek reinstatement. Complaints of discrimination against unions are made to an arbitration tribunal. Individual trade unions investigate alleged violations of work conditions to try to ensure that employers take the necessary steps to correct abuses. The labor laws also apply to enterprises located in export processing zones. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Under the Chiefdom's Council Act, compulsory labor may be imposed by individual chiefs, requiring members of their villages to contribute to the improvement of common areas. This practice exists only in rural areas. There is no penalty for noncompliance. The NPRC does not require compulsory labor. A decree does require that homeowners, businessmen, and vendors clean and maintain their premises. Failure to comply is punishable by fine or imprisonment. Determinations of such cleaning and maintenance may be made by any health officer, police officer, or member of the armed forces. The last Saturday of each month is declared a National Cleaning Day, and there were instances of security forces publicly humiliating citizens to ensure compliance. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The minimum age for employment is officially 18 years, but in practice there is no enforcement because there is no government entity specifically charged with this task. Children routinely assist in family businesses, especially those of vendors and petty traders. In rural areas children work seasonally on family subsistence farms. Because the adult unemployment rate is high (60 percent in some areas), few children are involved in the industrial sector. There have been reports that young children have been hired by foreign employers to work as domestics overseas at extremely low wages and in appalling conditions. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is responsible for reviewing overseas work applications to see that no one under 14 is employed for this purpose and to enforce certain wage standards. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work There is no minimum wage. Purchasing power continued to decline, and most workers have to pool incomes with their extended families and engage in subsistence food production in order to maintain a minimum standard of living. The Government's suggested standard workweek is 38 hours, but this is not mandated, and most workweeks exceed 38 hours. The Government sets health and safety standards, but the standards are outmoded and often not enforced. The Health and Safety Division of the Department of Labor has inspection and enforcement responsibility, but inadequate funding and transportation limit its effectiveness. Health and safety regulations are included in collective bargaining agreements, but there is no evidence of systematic enforcement of those health and safety standards. Trade unions provide the only protection for workers who file complaints about working conditions. Initially, a union makes a formal complaint about a hazardous work condition. If this is rejected, the union may issue a 21-day strike notice. If workers remove themselves from dangerous work situations without making a formal complaint, they risk being fired. (###)
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