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.

19 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!

  5. Maxwell bakarr,amnesty international does not accuse people for something they didn’t do.They only issue warning to very troubling things that are carried out by individuals, government, organizations, etc. If as you claim that Samura Kamara said he would render the country ungovernable if the slpp won the election, well, since word of a mouth they say cannot carry the total weight of a load, then let us wait and see.

    Though it is sixteen months gone now since Bio won the very election, if samura Kamara is going to do exactly what he promised, then amnesty international would issue out a statement just as they did for what the Bio government is doing rather than in mere words!

    The reason why most of you in this platform are so quick at missing a point is because, many of you can read but do not fully comprehend what you are reading or have read. Also, the sooner your political party is being mentioned in an article wherein the party is doing something wrong, some of you guys are so quick to freak out and make vague, incorrect, incompetent remarks to what is even not the topic or point of that very discussion. It is just disheartening but really not surprising to see such pettiness.. Please calm your nerves down, take a deep breath and re-read the article again.

  6. One thing that is obvious about President Maada Bio is that he is naturally a focused leader and once he keeps an eye on the ball nothing and nobody will distract him. His major focus now is Free Education, Fighting Corruption and revamping the economy by searching for investors?

    Even though this bye election in constituency 110 is important for his party, he has tried to stay neutral as Father of our nation, by not campaigning for the SLPP candidate unlike our former president and party leader for life who is supposed to act as an elderly statesman, and he is trying his best to give different institutions their independence.

    Some people are even mad at him for saying nothing and he has been very careful not to say anything since his opponents will still paint him with the negative brush that they have been using since he declared his intention to be president.

    I hope people will try to keep this information put out by amnesty International in context because it’s only about the arrest and detention of the suspects and the decision of the magistrate’s refusal to grant bail, which they also clarified that its discretionary.

    It has nothing to do with the incident at the APC office or former NPRC government. I hope and pray that justice will prevail in Sierra Leone but violence and intimidation should not be rewarded in our country.

  7. A big example for those who think that supporting a political party will make them popular in the country – no that’s big fat lie and today the accused persons are languishing behind bars, while their political warlords are enjoying with the tax payers money.

    I have no doubt about Amnesty International for releasing a press release concerned about human rights violations. My question is: where was the same Amnesty International when the opposition and his gangs were vandalising people’s homes and properties. There was no press release stating that the opposition party are violating the law, but now culprits are suffering for their wrong doing. They need the Government to intervene – not a person that committed a crime and deserves harsh punishment tomorrow.
    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL do your job professionally not because your family members are behind bars!!!!

  8. Only those that truly love Sierra Leone will agree that our country is going down the drain. The new Direction government must use new POSITIVE measures to transform Sierra Leone.

    Allow lawlessness to go unchecked and making partial biased arrests will not grow a good business environment. Why did the police turned a blind eye on the mayhem caused by Arata on the election day? We must think of the uncertainties of tomorrow and act wisely.

  9. Dear Koroma, I have strong family connection to Sierra Leone, and so I really feel worried. I never have been a supporter of colonialism, either the old or the neo colonalism of finance capital in the form of neo-liberalism. And believe me, against this I am fighting here in Germany and the whole EU also.

  10. Mr. Maxwell Bakarr with all due respect, where in this article for heaven’s sake states that, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is blaming and I quote ‘SLPP for APC on APC violence’? ARGUE! Please read the entire article over again before making such statements that will question your credibility by some on this PLATFORM.

    I am not surprised by the concerns of the organization. Their concerns and immediate intervention into this matter is a wake up call for all concerned. Such acts if continued unchecked, might lead to people being invited to the INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE in THE HAGUE in the near future.

    Let’s don’t forget what happened during NPRC RULE. There are issues which in my view are still on papers and waiting for some dramatic POLITICAL MISHAPS to happen to make references to them. We should always condemn anything that violates HUMAN RIGHTS.

    So, when this organization comes out to talk about HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS by any government in any country, the leaders or government must take caution. Mr. Maxwell Bakarr there, unable to properly understand the ARTICLE. GOD BLESS YOU Mr. Maxwell Bakarr.

  11. This is really as ridiculous as it can get – Amnesty International accusing the Government of Sierra Leone of human rights violations because a judge refuses bail to folks that are perpetrating violence against innocent citizens. They argue about the constitutional rights of the culprits but they say nothing about the responsibilities of these culprits or the constitutional rights of the innocent citizens that they are violating.

    And Amnesty International is also blaming the SLPP for APC on APC violence. Yet they will be the same organization that will blame the government for refusing to clamp down on lawlessness. Where was Amnesty International when Samura Kamara and other APC leaders threatened to render Sierra Leone ungovernable if the SLPP won the general elections? This is the reason why organizations like these are not taken seriously in developed countries. They are too hypocritical.

    • Hello Mr. Bakarr, it is not only Amnesty who is expressing big concerns about the political situation in your country. Look in the Cocorioko, there you will find statement from some embassies expressing their concerns.

    • Reinhard witcha, the less you become worried about Sierra Leone and Africa and the more you become worried about Germany, your country, the better. The days of colonialism are over. Let Sierra Leoneans exercise their right to self-determination.

      • Santigie – every reader has the right to contribute to discussions in this forum – irrespective of their racial origin. The Sierra Leone Telegraph frowns upon racism as much as it abhors tribalism. So please do not cross the line again, as to do so will lead to suspension. Keep your focus on the issues, not the individual. Thank you.

    • Thanks Mr. Reinhard Weicha for your candid contribution on this PLATFORM as always. With someone married to a Sierra Leonean woman, you have every right to contribute to problems affecting our country. Be yourself as always. The billion strong army are behind you. GOD BLESS YOU Mr. Reinhard Weicha and greetings to our Sierra Leonean sister.

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