Amnesty International accuses Sierra Leone government of human rights abuse

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2019:

The Executive Director of Amnesty International (Sierra Leone), Solomon Sogbandi, has said in Freetown that the continued detention of opposition politicians – Karamoh Kabbah and 22 others is a violation of their human rights.

All 23 were arrested a couple of months ago, and despite their several appearances in court, no evidence has been brought  forward by the police or the ruling SLPP party operative who is accusing the opposition politicians of malicious damage to her property.

What human rights observers find troubling, is that all 23 have been denied bail, and continue to languish in jail.

Last Monday, Amnesty International’s (Sierra Leone) Executive Director – Solomon Sogbandi, said that “The rights of the accused persons have been violated in relationship to the issue of access to bail and we are still concerned that to date the accused are still behind bars.”

Sogbandi noted that the accused were detained during the Police investigation for a period longer than what the law required. “When the matter was charged to Court, the Magistrate has consecutively refused bail to the accused persons… Amnesty International is expressing serious concern and appealing to the Magistrate to expedite the bail principles and policies around the accused to ensure that they are granted bail”, he added.

He referenced the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and urged the judiciary, especially the Magistrate Court to ensure the accused have a fair trial… by having less stringent bail conditions.

“We agree that bail is at the discretion of the Magistrate or the Judge but we have a revised bail policy of 2017, which makes provisions that while it is discretionary, it should not be left at the liberty of the magistrate or judge. You should be mindful of the fact that there are human rights issues around bail… except otherwise where there are crimes that do not warrant bail”, he said.

What the Bio led government must now be worried about is the continuing tainting of its human rights record, which critics say has been blighted since winning the 2018 elections, after scores of people living in the SLPP political heartland suspected of belonging to the defeated APC party, were seriously beaten and their homes destroyed.

The opposition APC is also accusing the SLPP government of sacking hundreds of public servants believed to be supporters of the APC party.

Political tension in Sierra Leone is worsening and there is no evidence in sight of a peace initiative aimed at bringing the ruling SLPP and the opposition parties to a roundtable for a resolution of their differences.

Resumption of parliamentary sittings after annual recess

Meanwhile, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament has issued a statement informing all Members of Parliament and the General Public, that parliamentary sittings will resume after its annual recess, tomorrow Thursday 29th August 2019 at 10:00 am the Chamber of Parliament, at Tower Hill, Freetown.

“Members of Parliament are therefore informed that their official recess will end on Wednesday 28th August 2019. Consequently, the Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament is encouraging all Members of Parliament to be present for the commencement of proceedings on Thursday 29th August 2019 at 10:00 am. Meanwhile, MPs are advised to collect from their pigeonholes a document entitled: Citizen’s Development Factsheet, for consideration starting Monday 26th August 2019.”

But it is not certain whether the opposition APC members of parliament will stay away from parliament tomorrow, in protest at what they say is “the continuing incarceration of APC party supporters”.

The opposition APC has lost 10 of their MPs to the ruling SLPP, after a High Court petition ruling that disqualified over a dozen APC MPs from taking their seats in parliament, accused of electoral irregularities at the March 2018 polling. This has now given the ruling SLPP party a majority in the country’s parliament.

The opposition APC has appealed against those High Court judgements, and is still waiting for their case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

5 Comments

  1. “Julian Assange was locked up in an embassy for over how many years.” Please tell us which country did that to him?

  2. The people’s party, the SLPP, asserts that the past we wish to leave posterity is one for which we hope they do not look back and weep; and yes we promise a future free of fear and trepidation.

  3. When you want to talk about political instability in Sierra Leone, it was tantanmount during the early days of the APC. It was very nasty to see or to look at. Let Sogbandi keep quiet. APC believe in violence. Violence is not the way to peace but to destruction. If you can recollect, APC has done more harm to Sierra Leone than SLPP.

  4. It is,heaven knows,more than thirty years since former president Siaka Stevens died and a quarter of a century since able lieutenant,S.I.Koroma, joined him.At the height of their political powers these two men were sure of their immortality,sending others to an early grave over mere political differences.Where are they now?

    But their ghosts have refused to go away;they still haunt the political scene and corridors of power to continue to inspire the political violence which they initiated after assuming power in the late 1960s. Defeatism must now be engulfing those who have been hoping that soon enough there will be a new dawn where political violence will become a distant memory.The source of the defeatism is the sight of those who were not even born when Stevens was in power perpetrating the most monstrous and unfathomable political violence for the same insane reasons which Stevens and S.I.Koroma were the architect.

    Political violence in any guise is a violation of basic human rights and disregard for the rule of law.Now Amnesty International is concentrating the spotlight on President Bio for allowing political opponents to be indefinitely detained by his judiciary – the same tactic which Siaka Stevens used about the time Bio was born.The DNA has been passed on.Where is the New Direction?

    President Bio must understand that investors only flock to those areas or countries where there is stability.Locking up political opponents indefinitely and not being able to oversee a tiny bye election peacefully are never elements of stability.

    Get your house in order President Bio and the investors will knock down each other in an effort to reach you.This is not Economics but common sense.

    • Rubbish! The investors can stay away for all we care. Its rich coming from Amnesty International or whatever they call themselves to start telling us what is right or wrong. Why dont they go and tell the powers that be, that are dropping bombs on innocent children all over the world about human rights?

      Julian Assange was locked up in an Embassy for over how many years. Where was amnesty International? If you sit in your house and your doors and Windows falling off, and you dont fix it, but waiting for international body to fix it for you, then you are a fool. The APC has done more than any other party will do in Sierra leone, that will ever warrant the caution of the so called Amnesty International. These are just international voice boxes for their Masters. They all do have their agenda!

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