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”.