British government expresses concern for human rights in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 July 2020:

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has seen a letter written by the UK Minister for Africa – James Duddridge,  expressing serious concern about the treatment of Sierra Leone’s former Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs – Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, since her arrest and detention by the government of President Julius Maada Bio.

The letter dated 3rd of July 2020, by the Minister, states that the British government is aware of the arrest of Dr. Sylvia Blyden and the ongoing court trials also involving Palo Conteh.

“The UK continues to have substantive discussions with the Government of Sierra Leone” and said such discussions includes “raising the importance of improving media freedoms and protecting rights of journalists as well as the upholding of fundamental human rights,” the letter also reads.

The minister for Africa is concerned about the Criminal Libel Laws “under which Dr. Blyden has been charged”.

The lack of urgency by the Bio-led government in expunging the criminal libel laws from the country’s Statute Books, is casting a dark shadow over the government’s human rights record.

The British Minister expressed concern over the treatment of Dr. Sylvia Blyden who was detained by President Bio’s regime for 51 days, on spurious allegations of libel against the president, subversion and cyber-crimes.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made representations to the Government of Sierra Leone on the need for due process, as is our expectation of all judicial processes globally, as well as fair, timely and de-politicised justice”.

26 Comments

  1. Mr. Brima Sesay, Please slow down on Mr. James Duddridge because I can categorically tell you that this so-called letter is beyond his pay grade. As a former banker, his primary duty as The Minister to Sub-Saharan Africa, is connected ONLY to Economic development which involves international financial institutions and the UK government’s development finance institution. Official statements about human rights concerns usually comes from ambassadors or foreign secretaries and should have been breaking News on AYVTV and Radio Democracy 98.1 Fm and Awoko Newspaper which are the most trusted media outlets in our country.

  2. They should also focus on her corruption whilst Minister. What a spectacular fall from grace for this horrible woman. Ha ha

  3. Nowhere to run and hide for this Criminal SLPP Cabal now holding on to the reins of power; eventually this lawless President and his ruthless, agitating henchman are going to be bound and tied up securely and permanently in knots like a stubborn herd of cattle, waiting to be slaughtered by the dexterous unfaltering hands of unforgiving Fulani Cattlemen. Over 40 Prisoners slaughtered in cold blood, arbitrary arrests here and there, not to mention the systematic bullying and intimidation of innocent citizens and opposition members.

    Somehow, they think they are secure, above the law just like oil floating on top of water,but let these dullards and cowards be aptly reminded that oil sitting at rest on the surfaces of water can be licked dry and consumed completely by raging fire. A shameless remorseless bunch of tribalistic men, they are. We need the Prison authorities to now release the mugshots of those who were ritually and mercilessly sacrificed by SLPP military trained assassins, and we would also like to hear from some of their family members so that we will be able to get another authentic side of this tragic story.

    Let the British remind them – gone are the days when barbarians murder innocent citizens, and not a word of protest is heard anywhere. We will find out the truth about what happened while suspicious SLPP operatives were in Pademba road Prison on that ill-fated day…we will not pause,yield or rest until we do – better believe it!

  4. Mr.James Duddridge, we do not need another conflict or war ever again in to this country, and do not try to create one. You did not specify your main human right abuse concerns, but just raised about one individual’s name and concerns. We are no longer under a colonial rule. I do not understand if this was a petition or an issue that was debated in the British parliament or not. I personally urged you to form some bipartisan policy for immigration reforms, because since 1994 the British government stopped renewing our passport abroad when expired. I was in Tunis when I faced that problem, as you have claimed that you are a half Sierra Leonean, my question is” what have you ever done for Sierra Leone as your mother’s birth land”?. May God protect Sierra Leone.

    • There is James Duddridge, and there is another James Cleverly. They are both ministers of state in the foreign and commonwealth Office. The later is the minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa. He is the one that is born to a Sierra Leonean Mother and British father.

      I think Mr Brima Sesay you are spot on in saying the British government should do more for Sierra Leone. Historically these two countries are joined in the hip.

  5. Sierra Leone has been in the limelight of Human Rights Violations since the inception of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party(SLPP).
    It is a testimony of dissatisfaction and disappointment to the people of Sierra Leone who cried for regime change. Since the election of President Julius Maada Bio to power, there has been lots of Human Rights Violations ranging from both political witch-hunt against opposition parties, arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists, political violence to name but a few.
    The spate of violence in Sierra Leone is a cause for concern in Sierra Leone.

  6. The other problem we failed to notice or choose to ignore, is in the interest of the United Kingdom, or Europe for our countries to remain peaceful and prosperous. Young African men locked up in containers, and sold in slave markets in Libya, is an other solid reminder of how our politicians have failed us. There is nothing wrong with the land, the people, the God given natural resources, but the unwillingness or due to selfish reasons of our politicians, to take the lead in developing our countries for the good of all. The world has become a global village. What happened in a distant outpost, like in Wuhan, China in a meat market and the subsequent outbreak of COVID19, is now affecting countries around the world.

    Nowadays, countries like the UK have taken the view – don’t wait for the problem to come knocking at your door. Go and sort the problem from its source. If conflict erupts as a result of the work of fanatical, decisive and selfish unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans, that traditionally have tribal difference running in their DNA, the first flights of Sierra Leoneans refugees will be heading for London or USA. And you will find these are the politicians and their families. The same people that are stoking up tribal differences, saying their tribe or region deserves better than the rest of us. As for the rest of us, we shall be heading for Guinea and Liberia. The same routes we took during the fanatic RUF wars. No one wants that. No Sierra Leonean in their right mind will want that for our country. PEACE and HARMONY IS THE BEST! That is why the UK government is sounding the alarm.

  7. We still cant stand alone, politics is hunting and dividing us. We need fair play in all aspect of life (freedom in political association, speech, movement etc.), total inclusion (gender equality, tribal and regional). Lets try to be ourselves, solve our indifferences and see ourselves as one people. Thanks to our Colonial Masters, to step up

  8. Indeed our colonial master needs to stand firm for the people of our beloved country Sierra Leone, due to the continuous human rights abuses going on in the country, since the Bio led PAOPO government assumed power in 2018. We the people of Sierra Leone are tired with this blame game.

  9. Whatever the debate of the existence of this letter or not, the British government due to historical reasons has a stake in ensuring our country remains peacful. France played a keyrole in helping end the war in Ivory Coast. Today more than 4000 french troops are fighting islamic terrorist in Mali and the Shael region. If the UK raised its concerns, it is because of the heightened poiltical tension in the country. Right now West Africa as a wbole is suffering from a security nightmare. The arrest of Dr Bylden and the trial of Poalo conteh, the riots around the country are just an indication we are heading for the wrong direction. We want to be the oasis of peace in the west African subregion, whilst our neighbours are losing their heads.

    Sometimes in life only your true friends are capable of telling you the hard truth. We should not dismiss the British concern like it is a colonial hangover. The reality is in terms of national reconciliation, president Bio should start leading from the front, not the back. The role of the British government in the history of Sierra Leone has remained constant since before, and after the slave trade. More recently, not discounting the role of ECOMOG, without the role of the British and especially, the then ambassador Peter Penfold and for the first time a British force commander David Richards, defying his superior in white Hall and directly intervening in a civil conflict. The British sent in the PARAS aganist the renegade West Side Boys. That spelled the end of our civil war. We Sierra Leoneans have short memories. Becareful what you wish for.

  10. Mr Thomas should be considered a national treasure by the people of Sierra leone for his refined,unadulterated good sense of judgement (lol). As a matter of fact next time i am in Freetown i will pay our Mayor a courtesy visit and ask her personally to consider as part of the modernization of Freetown,seriously renaming some of those meaningless names like Dugaan street,Emos Drive,Power avenue etc to more Afrocentric and Patriotic names like Abdul Thomas Road,Saidu Conteh avenue,and of course,not forgetting our one and only musical genius the eclectic Dr Oloh. I sincerely would like to see a street or road named after him,because he gave our people so many beautiful gentle and happy memories.

    And Inshallah next time I am in Freetown I am going to do whatever I can in order to make that becomes a reality. Now the SLPP has no clue that the borrower is slave to the lender; they mistakenly thought that they could swindle the clever British by borrowing money and not ever pay it back, but instead use as a tool to further their hateful authoritarian agendas.(lol )Now their masters have come, like desert landlords from long journeys,intent of setting their houses in order telling them what to do, sending them tirelessly on endless exhausting errands like ordinary domestic laborers.

    The lender says,”Tread softly!” they hastily reply; “Yes sir Massa will do” Again he says; “At dawn you must arise before the cock crows,and prepare me a hot breakfast made of Ceylon Tea;” And the SLPP stooges grin broadly and reply, “Yes Sir Massa will do it before dawn, Ceylon tea is the best”. Hahahaha…Slaves they have all become – Professors, Brigadiers and all.(lol)

    • Many thanks Stargazer for your kind proposals and intentions. Please don’t forget to ask the most successful Mayor of our times to rename the Freetown – Waterloo Highway, MATTURI HIGHWAY and also ask if she could find any footpath to be named – Mr BICOL LOW FOOTPATH? When they go LOW, we go HIGH. Thanks Stargerzer as always and may God bless you.

  11. Sahr Matturi,

    I have never responded to any of your rubbish on this forum because I have long determined that either you lack basic skills to comprehend what you read or you simply have the mind of an infant, a petulant infant for that matter.

    Moreover, it is probable that you suffer from Adult Attention Deficit disorder (AADD). Otherwise, you could have seen that the reference to slavery in my earlier comments was simply an attempt to put the current human rights violations in Britain in their proper historical context. It follows that your blatant disregard for the core underpinnings of my arguments is a dereliction of debating duty that is grounded in your reckless display of inept debating skills. But I am awfully familiar with this fundamental APC characteristic. Additionally, it is abundantly clear that not only are APC folks logically incoherent in anything that they do but are also obsessive with anything that exists outside the norms of decent human behavior.

    Evidently, black people have perished per capita in Britain from Coronavirus than in any country in Africa. This is due mainly to the disgraceful system of oppression and barbarity that the British government continues to unleash on people of color. Are the dirtiest jobs in Britain not reserved for black people? So, why are you ignoring this to focus only on my slavery reference? Look, I even believe that this entire exercise is not worth my time. All the sources close to the Government of Sierra Leone that I have contacted do not confirm the existence of any letter from Mr. James Duddridge. So, this ends my contribution to this debate. You are at liberty to climb to the top of Cotton Tree and cry out about human rights violations. LOL!!!

    • Cowards die many times before their death. Oh, grumpy Mr Bilal Coleman. I understand your plight in this discussion, and I can feel your sadness, anxiety and anger over the poor performance of a failed project that you have been supporting all your life. Being discourteous and going berserk will only give people like me the momentum and courage to hit hard on your lipstick comments or presence on this excellent platform. Being an activist of the Bio SLPP does not warrant you to be rude. My questions were straightforward and had nothing to do with your comment.

      Moreover, I am not going to engage in any rude rhetoric with you, Mr Bilal Coleman. What I can say is that your comment looks like a story coming from a mean and timid adult coward. Do you agree with me, Mr Bilal Coleman? More questions for you Mr Bilal Coleman – Have you ever studied essential reading and comprehension? Do you know the history behind the cotton tree in central Freetown? When was the slave trade abolished and who was the pioneer behind it?
      Please don’t tell me this – “So this ends my contribution to this debate.” You can’t just disappear or hide behind your back, Mr Bilal Coleman. I know that is what cowards do. God help Mr Bilal Coleman with his slave history teachings and not to disappear from the dice he has started rolling.

  12. Temper-tantrum! Temper-tantrum! Temper-tantrum! My fellow Sierra Leoneans, are the POAPA extremists now extending their dictatorial impulses to the editor of this honorable newspaper, demanding retractions of reports which by all indications are true reflections of what our nation has been undergoing? Also, if the west have no business in lecturing us how to run our impoverished nation, why is it that since this regime came to power, the president spent millions of dollars traveling around these western nations, with the sole purpose of begging and attracting western investors? Does it make sense for a parent to continue to cater for a child who thinks they have grown enough and should not be corrected or told what to do?

    I am really having some difficulties in understanding the derangement and insanity coming out of these extremist PAOPA supporters. When APC was in power, aren’t some of these supporters constantly screaming for these western nations to hold the EBK government accountable, including some partaking in demonstrations in major cities such as New York and London? What is exactly wrong with these unpatriotic Sierra Leoneans? Is SLPP as a party bigger than Sierra Leone? You guys definitely need to take a sleeping pill. Your extremist views are becoming very unattractive, even president Bio is gradually having enough of this nonsense.

  13. Based on the above comment from Mr. Sannoh , can this noble newspaper please publish the official letter of readers of this newspaper which they have always done. Otherwise for the credibility of this newspaper this article should be respectfully retracted.

    • Mr Falley, the Sierra Leone Telegraph will NOT publish such letter. Why dont you ask your government to write to the UK government for a copy? And we will not retract our story either. As for the comments made by Mr Sannoh, all I can say is that he seems to be suffering from personal identity crisis, where he is not sure his name is Mohamed sannoh or as he calls himself at the end of his comment – Kapri Kpandenina Kolugbonda! Good try Mr Falley. Your request is denied. Lol

  14. I have been able to categorically confirm that the SLHC in the U.K haven’t received any such letter from any of the channels which are normally utilised for such communications (either from here or from Freetown). It must also be pointed out here that neither the original source of this (Sylvia Blyden’s Awareness Times newspaper) nor the subsequent copy-cat publications have named the person/persons to whom this “letter” was addressed to.

    According to our sources in the SLHC, the letter would be responded to by the appropriate body when the existence of such a letter is officially brought to attention. Having said that, “the criminal libel law” has been in existence for over 50 years, including during the entire eleven years when Sylvia Blyden and her APC government were fully in charge. They had no issues using it to suit their ends. The current SLPP government is the first in our history not just to adopt the expunging of that law as a matter of policy but to actually table it through parliament.

    As it is, we believe that this government will continue to push for the Criminal Libel law to be repealed and expunged not simply because they want to ensure the protection of an individual but for the promotion of journalism as an unfettered institution. As our historically connected development partners, engagements with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has always been a feature of national governance and is a welcome aspect of our relationship. This also means that the government of the United Kingdom and individuals writing in that name are undoubtedly aware of the fact that as a democratic dispensation the government of Sierra Leone cannot act outside of the existing laws of the land. This is the personal view of Kapri Kpandenina Kolugbonda.

    • Thank you Mr. Sannoh. May the mighty God continue to bless you and your entire family. You have said it all. The truth must prevail and Sierra Leone is ours – not only for one man or party. Insh a Allah.

  15. It is a disgrace that Britain with its eternal history of human rights violations would have the audacity to lecture another country about human rights. On what moral grounds can Britain stand to express concerns about human rights issues in Sierra Leone when its streets have for the last two months been paraded by protesters expressing rage at the dirty and hypocritical attitude of Britain in the realm of human rights? Has the world not seen the statues of former slave owners and other wicked colonialists come down amid celebrations from even whites who are tired with a British system that endorses the oppression of people of color?

    Moreover, how would Britain lecture on human rights when it allows the COVID 19 pandemic to kill black and Asian people in disproportionately large numbers compared with whites? Also, are the dirtiest of jobs in Britain not reserved for people of color? Have people of color in the Healthcare industry not been sent to the forefront to fight COVID 19 without personal protective equipment? If this is not human rights violation then I wonder what is.

    I have lived in Europe and America and can argue unequivocally that I feel one hundred percent safer in Sierra Leone than in any of these two regions of the world. I have no fear of the police in Sierra Leone. I have been pulled over a few times on the highways and have never feared that I would get shot. This is not the case in Europe and America. The police pulling a black man over in Europe or America creates a situation that can easily deteriorate into blatant molestation or death for the black man. So suffice it that for Britain or any other western nation to lecture on human rights, they must first clean out the speck in the eyes and learn to lead by example.

    • Yeah. See the bitterness and anger in their arguments, when Global Britain’s warning shots have started deploying and flexing its no nonsense muscles. First point of destination – Sierra Leone. Mr Bilal Coleman, with all due respect, will you please concentrate on the barbarity and the excellent gross human rights violations committed in Sierra Leone by the Bio SLPP, before shouting and crying for what happened ages before most, if not all of us on this glorious platform were born? You seem to go berserk each time the barbarity, unlawful incarceration, mob justice incitement and gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Bio SLPP are criticized.

      I have these questions for you Mr Bilal Coleman – Do you love the Sierra Leoneans sold during the slave trade more than our prisoners and prison officers who were murdered by President Bio’s presidential guards on the 29th of April this year? Do you prefer or have interest in statues of heroes like Bai Burreh, Sengbeh Pieh, etc or the statues of Slave Traders ages ago? Reply to my questions as quickly as you can Mr Bilal Coleman and may God help you with the failed Bio SLPP project. Make no mistake Mr Bilal Coleman. Global Britain is going to hit hard on tyrants and dictators.

    • Mr. Coleman, but they feed us, thus are at liberty to dictate the way we tread when dealing with each other, irrespective of whether their concern stems from a hypocritical standpoint. You know, in the same way that a mother, who of course cloths, feeds, and foresee that her children’s pampers are changed when necessary would loosely utter vile languages during heated conversations, but would Godly forbid her children to do the same. It’s just the way of the world, Mr. Coleman. We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

  16. Yeah. A determined Minister for Africa there, Mr James Duddridge, signalling what is to come when Global Britain kicks in. Have they got this message by the Foreign and Commonwealth office? And I quote – “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made representations to the Government of Sierra Leone on the need for due process, as is our expectation of all judicial processes globally, as well as fair, timely and de-politicised justice.” Of course, Mr James Duddridge is no one new to the behaviour of African Governments and institutions. You can’t teach him about our behaviors when it comes to gross human rights violations and politicizing our judiciary with bogus and bungled investigations. He spent sometime working in Africa.

    Finally, with Global Britain slowly but surely kicking in to protect the marginalized and vulnerable, let’s see how tyrants and dictators will get away with their corrupt judiciary pandemic and loot. God bless Mr James Duddridge and the no nonsense Johnson Administration. God bless the people of Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom. Amen and Amen. Father God.

  17. Surely, our colonial masters and other western democracies are paying close attention to a spate of political intolerance and the stifling of citizens freedom of expression since the Bio regime assumed power. Only a few years ago, we were being touted by Britain and other western democracies as a success story, owning to the fact that, our nation has rekindled from the brink of a 12yrs civil war, restoring democratic governance, with the observation of several seemingly, free and fair elections. While we were still making headlines in terms of corruption and other poverty related issues, human rights abuse, was at least not a major factor. My prayer is, president Bio will soon step up and stamp out extremist elements within his PAOPA faction, and restore our seemingly path to good democratic credentials.

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