Justice at last for thousands killed by Ebola negligence and corruption in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 December 2017:

Today there are reports from Freetown of an unprecedented court action, being brought jointly by two Ebola survivors and the Sierra Leone Center for Accountability and Rule of Law, in the West African regional ECOWAS Court of Justice based in Abuja, Nigeria.

The court action is being brought against the Koroma government, for “violating the right to life and right to health” of the thousands that died, and also those that are still suffering from the Ebola virus, which struck Sierra Leone in 2013.

According to the press statement released today in Freetown by the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), “the Government of Sierra Leone violated its citizens’ right to life and health by mismanaging funds meant to respond to the Ebola virus disease”.

An investigation conducted by the Sierra Leone Auditor General found that about $14 million was missing from the Ebola funds, donated to the people of Sierra Leone to help provide care for those dying of and suffering from the Ebola virus disease.

Several Hundreds of doctors, nurses and ancillary health workers were allowed to die needlessly, as monies meant to buy protective wear disappeared into the personal bank accounts of government officials and private businesses.

The 15-page application filed today at the ECOWAS Court of Justice, claims that:

• That the government violated its citizens’ right to life by failing to adhere to relevant accounting and procurement controls which led to the loss of one third of the available resources, and was responsible for a greater number of deaths from Ebola than would otherwise have occurred.

• That the government violated its citizens’ right to health by failing to dedicate maximum available resources to the Ebola response, adding that the Government’s poor stewardship of the Ebola funds diminished the human and physical resources needed to handle the Ebola outbreak. This included the lack of healthcare workers, ambulances, basic medical supplies, and post-Ebola medical and psychosocial support.

• That the government has failed to conduct an effective investigation into the violations of the right to life and the right to health caused by mismanagement of the Ebola funds, and that such investigations are essential to ensure accountability and prevent future violations.

According to a statement issued by CARL today: The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone all guarantee the right to life and the right to health.

In February 2015, the Auditor-General of Sierra Leone issued a “Special Audit” report, which showed that 30% of the Ebola response funds managed by the Ministry of Health within five months of the outbreak could not be fully accounted for. Crucially, the report noted that the lapses in the management of the funds resulted in ‘a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the healthcare sector’.

In other words, mismanagement of the Ebola funds meant that the response was not as effective as it should have been, and as a result, more infections and deaths occurred.  (Photo: President Koroma receiving Ebola funds from donors – more than $18 million).

Nearly three years after the report was published, the Government of Sierra Leone has declined to investigate or otherwise meaningfully act upon the findings of the Audit Service.

“In the last three years, Sierra Leoneans have repeatedly demanded accountability and justice for the mismanagement of Ebola response funds, but their demands have fallen on deaf ears. This is an effort mainly by victims to hold the State to account as well as help them get a sense of closure,” said Ibrahim Tommy, Executive Director, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law.

The Registry of the ECOWAS Court of Justice is expected to serve the application on the Government of Sierra Leone shortly, but oral hearings may not be held until next year. The ECOWAS Court has jurisdiction to hear human rights claims brought by individuals or public interest plaintiffs. (Photo: Dr. Khan’s funeral).

If successful, this would be the first time the regional tribunal would establish a formal link between mismanagement of public funds and the violation of human rights. Sierra Leone was finally declared Ebola-free in January 2016, after 14,124 confirmed cases and 3,956 deaths.

The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), a Sierra Leonean civil society organisation, is committed to promoting human rights through accountability. Established more than a decade ago, CARL’s mission to work towards a just society for all persons in Sierra Leone through monitoring, advocacy for accountability and institutional transparency, and citizens’ empowerment.

There have been strong reactions to today’s unprecedented announcement, in support of the joint decision of CARL and the two Ebola victims to take the government to the ECOWAS Court for negligence, maladministration, and corruption.

This ECOWAS case will be much bigger than the recently concluded Sam Sumana case. The Ebola scourge was a terrible period in Sierra Leone’s history.

Some critics say that the Koroma government failed in tackling the Ebola virus, and that the ruling APC has some very nasty politicians, who should have been charged with corporate manslaughter and never allowed to continue in politics.

Others say that if ebola was a rebel leader causing so much deaths and suffering to the people of Sierra Leone, many politicians in the ruling APC would have been in jail as accomplice or for failing to use their public office to prevent or stop the killer virus.

4 Comments

  1. The deadly Ebola disease has once again reared its ugly head in the world. This time in Congo – barely 3 years since it was eradicated from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. I do hope the authorities will control the borders of Sierra Leone and check the temperatures of all who enter the country.
    They must start sensitising the public again, regarding handwashing and other hygiene measures. We certainly do not want to be caught unawares as we were in 2013.

  2. It is astonishing to read that it is the President of SLAES, Mr. Yusuf Kabbah, accusing the SL Government of corruption and embezzling Ebola money, while his own hands are dirty. Mid 2015, Ebola Attack Team’s doctor Monty Harding administered existing FDA approved oral medicines (Atorvastatin and Clomiphene Citrate) to successfully treat Post Ebola Syndrome in Ebola survivors. One of the first privileged was Mr. Kabba and 50 of his close executives in the organization.

    Due to the success with the 50 survivors and against the will of WHO, His Excellency the President was courageous to order these medicines to help 4,000 survivors. When the medicines arrived in November 2015, Ebola Attack Team paid Mr. Kabbah and his advisers substantial fund to have SLAES assist in the distribution and implementation of the medicines.

    Instead of helping his fellow survivors, Mr. Kabbah used the money for himself and did not show any form of empathy. He even colluded with the former Minister of Social Welfare and started to threaten Ebola Attack Team with imprisonment if they would continue the program.

    Colleagues in SLAES were warned not to collaborate with Ebola Attack Team. Social Welfare and Mr. Kabbah were afraid that they would not get the expected $5,000 per survivors from the Post Ebola Fund and the money would stay with the MoHS. So he/they choose to have the survivors suffering from Post Ebola Syndrome for personal interest and hidden agenda. Now this same Mr. Kabbah starts accusing the government of being corrupt. Shame on you Mr. Kabbah and cohorts.

    Its time the ECOWAS Court of Justice starts to investigate Mr. Kabbah, the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, why they intentionally obstructed the treatment of Ebola survivors and still endangered the population with the possibility that survivors with lingering Ebola residue can develop active Ebola and contaminate the population.

    Ebola mutates from one person to another and even the brightest scientists don’t know how to tackle that problem or develop an effective drug. It is a crime against humanity to deny survivors free access to harmless medicines that are fully effective and are daily used by millions of people around the world.

    For more information read the publications in: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ebolaattackteam/?ref=bookmarks

  3. It is time for those who are in public offices to realise that they will be held accountable. The timing of this court action is right. Those seeking elections should now be mindful that the people are becoming aware of their rights. Thank you CARL. Wish more of similar organisations will follow your example. Well done!

  4. Hallelujah Amen Hallelujah Amen and Amen.Hallelujah Amen and Amen and Amen. This is the right thing to do. Let us lend our support to the victims both the living and the Dead. Especially the orphans, widows and widowers. We need above all a public Inquiry on the both EBOLA and the MUDSLIDE! GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD.

    There are two more issues that demand citizen right to know. This about our MINERALS; Why did AFRICAN MINERAL and LONDON MINING FAIL? Our minerals are our main source of our DEVELOPMENT. That was why Almighty God buried them in the Belly of our Land.

    We also want all our GEMS RETURNED(from the STAR OF SIERRA LEONE TO THE PEACE DIAMOND) They were stolen from us, the Sierra Leonean People and we want them back.INTERNATIONAL COURTS WE ARE COMING! OH HALLELUJAH SEVEN MILLION TIMES OVER. AMEN SEVEN MILLION TIMES OVER!

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