ACC name and shame alleged corrupt education officials publicly

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 September 2019:

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has today taken an unprecedented step of not only naming those education officials alleged to have been involved in exams fraud, but have gone one step further by publicly shaming them on the streets, in the central district of Cotton Tree in the capital Freetown.

The accused examination officials were this afternoon lined up at the Cotton Tree Junction, opposite the Freetown Law Courts Building, with placards fastened on to their chest.

Some of the placards read: “I am a teacher who was arrested for obstructing law enforcement personnel from carrying their duties”; “I am the teacher who was arrested on 07/09/2019 by the ACC and other law enforcement agencies for exam (WASSCE) malpractices”; “I am the Principal who was arrested on 07/09/19 by the ACC and other law enforcement agencies for exam (WASSCE) malpractices”.

Handcuffed, looking broken and bewildered, the detainees who are yet to appear before the High Court on corruption charges, are being paraded to the general public by the ACC as an example of what could befall anyone taking part in examination malpractice in the country.

Last Saturday, investigators of the ACC raided an examination centre in the far east of Freetown where they arrested these exam officials, including the principal and three others. The ACC also took away various items from the building which they say are clear evidence of their culpability and involvement in examination fraud.

They are alleged to have been caught helping private examination students take their exams after receiving bribes of over One Million Leones, equivalent to about £110 Sterling per student.

But human rights experts are questioning the legitimacy of today’s tactics of publicly shaming the accused before they are charged to court. They say that it breaks the fundamental human rights principle of “innocence until proven guilty by a court of law”.

Article 5 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration says that: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Reactions on social media have been overwhelmingly against the decision to publicly parade and disgrace those arrested and waiting to be charged to court , where the ACC and police will have the opportunity to prove their guilt.

These are some of the comments:

“All teachers and principals should stop work immediately. This has just further undermined whatever was left of the psychological credibility of the teaching profession. Education has just been finally slaughtered! People in other offices do far worse, and they are not treated like this. WHAT HAS GONE WRONG WITH OUR COUNTRY? NO COURT HAS PROVEN THESE PEOPLE ARE GUILTY; and even if they have been, this is not the way to treat the credibility of the profession.”

“I support the fight against corruption but I disapprove of this. By the way aren’t the suspect innocent till proven otherwise by a court? These teachers have rights, and are innocent until they go through a court trial and found guilty.”

The former Attorney General and former head of the ACC – Joseph Franklyn Kamara said: “Public parading of suspects before due process of trial is against the presumption of innocence as enshrined in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, Section 23(4). This is a dangerous precedent that opens the floodgates for abuse.”

Another commentator said: “While we endorse the fight against graft, it is equally our responsibility to ensure that it is done within the bounds of the Law.”

“Public naming and shaming people involved in abuse of office and any form of corrupt practices is fine and good. But this done by the Anti-Corruption Commission to alleged perpetrators of the most recent WASSCE writing at Peacock Farm in Wellington on Saturday is not just abuse of human rights against those arrested but pre-emption of justice. This is like already convicting an accused even before he is tried in a court of law, inconsiderate of the fact that by law, accused persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law. The suspects are under investigation for onward charging to court, but having tagged them in various ways the ACC officials have done, what if any of them is acquitted and discharged in future? I am not a legal mind, but this method of doing things by the ACC officials to appear like knights in shining armour is by human reasoning, pre-emptive of justice. If anything, they should have waited until the perpetrators are proven guilty before naming and shaming them the way it has been done.”

“If this is the way people who offend are going to be treated now, then we might as well close all police stations and all the courts.”

“Have you checked Section 7 (1) of the ACC Act?  It states under the Functions of the Commission that the ACC should: (a) to take all steps as may be necessary for the prevention, eradication or suppression of corruption and corrupt practices”; to which someone replied: “Save that he or she as commissioner shall not breach any of the provisions of the 1991 Constitution guaranteeing the freedoms and human rights of citizens. Presumed innocence until proven guilty is one such rights.”

“Welcome to Sierra Leone where our constitution is being interpreted by lawyers and activists as per their political Affiliation.  Our 1991 constitution has been ripped apart.”

“No we are no longer under any law. Sierra Leone is in tatters. These are some of the issues that fanned the flame of Civil War. But we are not learning as a nation.”

“I love the fight against corruption and malpractices in examinations, but it should be within the confines of the Rule of Law!
Publicly parading suspects of malpractices with ‘guilty’ tags is definitely in conflict with the presumption of innocence as prescribed by Section 23(4) of the Sierra Leone Constitution Act No. 6 of 1991.  This singular act is not only repugnant and repulsive, but falls within vile territory. It is true that no one is above the law; but it is also true that no one is below the law. Due process of the law must be followed”.

“Why were politicians and civil servants who agreed to repay state funds they stole not paraded around the streets of Freetown, but teachers are paraded with tags without even due process. They should be charged and tried in a court room, not paraded in front of cotton tree.”

Finally, this commentator says: “Is this the new judicial form of punishment in salone. Very troubling”.

What must be said though, is that the young head of the Anti-Corruption Commission – Francis Ben Kaifala, is doing a great job in fighting corruption. But there is risk now of jeopardising all this good work by today’s action.

Hopefully, today’s action will never be repeated, and the ACC and law enforcement agencies can go about their lawful job of investigating, charging and taking to court, anyone suspected of corruption without breaching the human rights of suspects.

21 Comments

  1. ACC is working in the right direction to save Mama Salone from under development, low human index, poverty, inequality and hunger. Acquiring of knowledge through education and meaningful intervention of free quality education is a drive towards sustainable development for a nation heading to accomplishing millennium development goal of the new direction. Paopa salone go betteh.

  2. The ACC cannot use section 7 of the ACC Act to break the law,especially section 23 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, no matter the objective of ACC.

  3. This is completely against their fundamental human right. It is an act of undermining the justice system in the country. It is more than mob justice against those educational officers. Why should a man accused of a crime be punished before appearing in a Court. This does not in any way makes the justice system fair in this matter. They should have been treated with some respect until the final judgment is handed down. I do not in any way support any acts that would undermine the educational system of a nation.

  4. When are they going to parade the Government Minister who perpetrated the violence at constituency 110 election?. I am waiting.

  5. We all applaud him for the good job but that was never the way to do justice. In fact they were never found gulty of the offence. And what happen to the philosophy that says: ‘A man can only be found guilty of an offence in a court of law?

  6. The problems with education started decades ago when the APC party under the leadership of late President Stevens who was a half – baked illiterate and a former dog catcher for the Freetown City Council was at the State House. He invented the idea that “Den Say Bailor Barrie you say Davidson Nicol“ which means it’s better to be Bailor Barrie who was less educated but a very successful businessman than Davidson Nicol who was one of the most educated, respected and humble professor at the Fourah Bay College (the first university of West Africa) but was not a wealthy man.

    Education continued down the slippery slopes after he commanded his security apparatus the SSD also known as the Siaka Stevens Dogs to wage war against University Students by violating their basic human right to speak freely against his one party dictatorship.

    Unfortunately after the APC party had been kicked out of power after 25 years, the people of Sierra Leone gave them another opportunity to redeem themselves by electing former President Ernest Koroma who is currently the lifetime leader of the APC,- decided to run our country as his personal business where everyone can become late “Bailor Barrie“ by all means necessary, and corruption became the order of the day- especially in education.

    The lifetime leader can’t even renovate his former Secondary School which was in a deplorable condition but gave his name to a university that he never built or have any affiliation. Unfortunately he also never made any attempt to give the students of the Fourah Bay College the opportunity to live in the campus which he enjoyed as a former student after moving from the province to Freetown.

    This example that the ACC has started has sent a shock through the spine of the lifetime chairman since the Commission of inquiry is about to be completed, so his destructive APC supporters (propaganda machine) that is almost 47% that are still bent on making our country ungovernable are now in high gear trying to derail the ACC process. But I hope and pray that the ACC commissioner will stay focused and continue to restore the Integrity and Credibility of our Educational System.

    Finally I hope the human rights groups in Sierra Leone will champion a protest against the USA government for displaying the suspected Nigeria 419ers in front of the world through all media channels so they ( human rights groups) can be heroes of Africa.

  7. This is worse than being in a CONCENTRATION CAMP. Has the ACC GENTLEMAN BOSS become the assistant to the IG and at the same time assistant to the HIGH COURT JUDGES? I hope the IG and the CHIEF JUSTICE will take note of this BARBARIC act by the ACC GENTLEMAN BOSS. This is a DANGEROUS PRECEDENT that needs to be condemned and discouraged. These people are not TERRORISTS or ENEMIES OF SIERRA LEONE.

    This GUY is getting out of hand. He needs to be stopped before it’s too late. Bottom line, this is TORTURE in broad daylight. DISGRACEFUL. He should just be placed on leave pending investigations. ARGUE! This is the beginning of the end of the ACC GENTLEMAN BOSS in my view. Awaiting the decision for the ACC GENTLEMAN BOSS to be sent on leave.

  8. ACC and all it supporters should now tell us the functions of the Law Court. Now the ACC is performing what other law enforcement bodies should be doing. If that is so, Mr ACC and your group you should now tell us when you will close the Law courts and the police stations, because they are now useless. And they should notify us so that we should go to the cotton tree to watch corrupt victims each time they catch one.

  9. Article 7 subsection 1 (a) of the Anti-corruption act reads as follows: “commission is established to take all steps as maybe necessary for the prevention, eradication or suppression of corruption and corrupt practices” has been misinterpreted at its highest???????

    “Hmmm:)…if anyone sees the rule of law, please tell him we want to know when he’s returning to Sierra Leone because “WE MISS HIM A LOT”

    Thief paraded on street with placard wants £90K over ‘stress of his punishment’‎

    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/thief-paraded-on-street-with-placard-wants-237179?utm_source=whatsapp&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sharebar

  10. Wow, why are such things happening in Sierra Leone? This is a very shameful situation for the country. Why would Government allow the ACC to publicly humiliate people who are allegedly accused of such acts. Have they been found guilty of such offences? Where is the justice system? This is complete privacy infringement. Does the law have any provisions to treat people in such a way rather than to levy fines on them or imprison if failed to pay fines? This is the worst action the Anti-Corruption Commission has ever taken in the history of this nation.

  11. They deserve it, because these are the people who have destroyed the educational system in Sierra leone.
    Just take a look at the percentage of failure in the Athens of West Africa (Sierra Leone) – but now only 0.002% can make it in the examination; all due to the examination fraud.

    • But mind you Mr ACC chairperson you have to do the same thing to all politicians that were found guilty by the Commission of Inquiry, so we will see your justice as equal because they are the one causing all these problems for the young people of Sierra Leone.

  12. Yes, the teachers were apprehended for examination malpractices. Yes, that is a punishable crime. Unfortunately, I believe the country has laws, although our leaders keep abusing our constitution at will, especially when their interests are at stake.

    The Commissioner refused to abide by the law. He brought the accused before the courts where they are to be tried. Instead of taking them inside the courtroom, he chose to interpret the ACC Act in his own way and denied the accused persons the right to be heard before they could be condemned.

    The act is bad and should not be condoned, but that does not give the Commissioner the right to abuse their Constitutional right. That treatment is not only an abuse of their constitutional rights but it also abuses their basic human rights.

    You have our support in the fight against corruption, but take the legal steps and respect accused persons’ constitutional rights. We are not in the jungle. There are laws, uphold them, Sir!!!

  13. How barbaric!! This cruel and unusual punishment is laden with human rights violations, the first of which is due process of the law. Such overzealous prosecutions would take the country back in time.

  14. So called human rights activists have to think keenly before taking any action or make comments or criticisms. If this kind of criminal behavior was from the ruling government, I believe there will be more joy on your faces. These guys are guilty without doubt. The government has to pass a law so these type of criminals are not eligible to vote in any election in this country. Thanks

  15. Public Humiliations are among the foremost and clearest indicators anyone would ever need to assess and determine the kind of society they are living in. Nazi officials and Gestapos used public degradations to instill fear, bullying and intimidate Jews and gypsies and also for the purposes of recruiting and winning sympathisers for their mindless, barbaric movement.

    Sounds like the SLPP to me.(lol) Seriously, is this SLPP government leaning towards totalitarianism? Of course – slowly and discreetly they are; and their actions are giving them away, revealing to a few discerning minds their real shady intentions. This government has deliberately thrown the ethical, moral and technical principles of the Rule of Law out the window and have become the nations sole Judge, Jury and Executioner.

    Human Rights Watch I hope you are taking take notes – the individual rights and freedoms of citizens are being suppressed and trampled upon and today, the widely practiced norm by our government has become – Guilty Until Proven Innocent. Who wants to know where we are heading? Well, the New Failing Direction and Adolf Hitlers Third Reich are the same thing – seeds from the same tree and their fruits are distasteful. Yup, wickedness and evil are now being harvested daily, from the trees of injustices by the government of Sierra Leone. True. Now hear this again: Millions of army boots and all their shine and massive military weapons gleaming in the burning sun; supported by frightening, lethal force, never once in the past did succeed in changing the minds of people, neither will it now.

    A damn shame – to see a government basking in ineptitude and corruption to the core of their incompetent beings, sinking so very low, perpetrating public humiliations against our educators and Teachers. And why would these unthinking heads do something so sickening and repulsive in Freetown, our Capital city? Why not Bo and Kenema, places known by many as a Bushman’s Paradise.(lol) Yep, the Stone Age ended 2 million years ago and is long gone, so are the Bronze and Iron Ages – so take your tools made of chunks of stone and your lawless cavemen, corrupt attitudes and inclinations somewhere else – Sierra Leone doesn’t belong to you!…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  16. Why not wait for a court hearing and verdict? And those found guilty can have their pictures on TV and in the newspapers for the public to see.

  17. It is really tempting to support such a shaming strategy employed by the ACC. However, what is most troublesome, is the perceived selective justice being exercised in this case. By all indications, the suspects are alleged to have done terrible things and will most certainly be found guilty based on evidence collected.

    Nonetheless, it is obvious these teachers’ crimes are not the worst form of corruption taking place in the nation. As pointed out by many concerned Sierra Leoneans, why didn’t the ACC treat our thieving politicians the same way? For deterrent to take hold, the same punishment must be awarded for similar or worst crimes devoid of political affiliation or status in society.

  18. Here is my take on the public shaming of those allegedly accused of exam malpractices: If those subjected to public display were tried and found guilty by a competent judge and the judge did pass such a judgement, then I support such an action to publicly humiliate them. I believe it will serve as a deterrent and I support it.

    However, if they are just accused persons and they’ve not been tried by any competent judge then I CONDEMN IT. ACC does not have the right to PUNISH ACCUSED person before judgement. Our constitution gives every accused the right to be considered innocent until found guilty by a competent court.

    Some folks have cited Article 7 subsection 1 (a) of the Anti-corruption act which read as follows: “commission is established to take all steps as maybe necessary for the prevention, eradication or suppression of corruption and corrupt practices” as justification for the actions of the ACC. I disagree with them.

    The words “all steps necessary” DOES NOT give right to the ACC to PUNISH ACCUSED PERSON BEFORE A VERDICT given by a competent judge. But I leave that to the judgement of legal luminaries.

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