Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 March 2018:
Sierra Leone’s High Court has today ruled that the police has the right to restrict traffic movements in the country on polling day – tomorrow, Wednesday, 6th March 2018. This ruling was made after legal action was brought by the erudite lawyer Charles Margai, calling for the police to rescind their traffic restrictions.
Yesterday, the country’s Bar Association – the body that governs and speaks on behalf of all senior lawyers, issued a press statement denouncing the traffic ban.
Opposition parties have refused to sign the Memorandum of Understanding drawn up by the police; civil society groups have all condemned the police action.
Notable also for her swift and concerted condemnation of the police action, was the political activist and civil rights campaigner – Dr Sylvia Blyden. She had referred to the police action as ‘unconstitutional’.
But today, after communications she had received from the police, Dr Blyden has written to the head of police to say that she is now happy with their “revised proposed restrictions on vehicular movement”.
This is what she says:
REVISED RESTRICTIONS ON VEHICULAR MOVEMENT
I have been informed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Dr. Al-Shek Kamara that the Sierra Leone Police has last night revised proposed restrictions on vehicular movement for Elections Day during voting and counting. The following are now exempted from restrictions:
1. Any Vehicles carrying old persons aged 70 years and above to and from polling stations
2. Any Vehicles carrying Persons with Disabilities to and from polling stations
3. Commercial Tricycles (aka kehkehs) for use by all others going about normal business.
DIG informs that apart from above categories, no other vehicle without NEC accreditation will be allowed to ply streets of Capital or District HQ towns. He also informs that inter-district movement of vehicles is still subject to restrictions during period of voting and counting of the ballots.
Against the above backdrop, I want to state for the records that I support the above revised restrictions. All my earlier concerns have been alleviated by the revision. My opposition to the previous blanket restriction had been done SELFLESSLY from a human rights perspective.
As you may know, being a media person currently working as a Consultant to the Awareness Times Newspaper, I have absolutely no restrictions on my vehicle or my person as I have already received NEC accreditation for myself and my private jeep, which I will use to freely drive around as I monitor Elections Day – just like I did in 2012.
My concerns were SELFLESS; borne out of a desire to ensure no citizen is disenfranchised from voting for our leaders in our democratic State.
Despite any personal issue I may currently have, it is a fact that overall, the Sierra Leone Police is contributing to making our country the most peaceful in West Africa today. I commend you for this. As this correspondence puts my position in writing for Posterity, I will release it to the media.
—- _signature_ ——
Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
CC: Attorney General & Minister of Justice
CC: DIG of Police Dr. Al-Shek Kamara