CHRDI: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 03 May 2020:
As a policy advocacy and human rights organisation based in Sierra Leone, one of our aims is to promote public accountability and respect for human rights and the enhancement of safety, security and justice.
That is why The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International-CHRDI, has been carefully following the discussions between the country’s security sector, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) , Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, RSLAF and Political party members.
We are in the midst of a global health emergency, which may not seem like the best time to address human rights but the issues we see across the board surfacing as a result of the crisis, are all relevant.
We consider it even more important that the principles of justice and respect for human rights, law and order are maintained.
CHRDI calls upon all peace loving Sierra Leoneans irrespective of political views, to condemn and reject all forms of violence during this period of distress as well as any individual and organisation that may try to directly or indirectly justify violence or protect the assailants.
There should be no space for threats of violence or actual violence against citizens and members of any political parties.
We believe this is a time when we should all be working together to face a common threat to our country and it’s welfare.
We urge all political parties to strongly remind their supporters that violence will not be tolerated and to take all precautions to ensure the safety of all citizens.
We also implore all sides to utilise peaceful channels of engagement and civil discourse to solve problems, rather than resort to violence and uncivilised behaviour.
In the same vein, we also want to register our disapproval over recent events involving the prisoners in Freetown. As proponents of criminal justice reform, we are calling for increased efforts to protect the prison populations, including boosting sanitization, supplies and proper protective gear for prison staff.
We are also calling for an increase in early release of non-violent offenders and those who are still awaiting trial. Prisons have been identified as potential hotbeds for outbreaks of disease, because inmates live in close, confined quarters.
It is unclear what motivations prompted the recent prison riot, which took away over 10 lives and injured several others, but it is clearly a matter of grave concern.
In view of the above, we want to strongly urge the Government of Sierra Leone to immediately investigate and make public the circumstances around this tragedy. Anyone involved in the alleged criminal acts, including human rights violations, must be promptly prosecuted.
CHRDI calls on the Government of Sierra Leone to fully and effectively respect the country’s Constitution and honour its mandatory international obligations to protect the human rights of every Sierra Leonean during this COVID19 response period.
Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI ) is a Rights based social-policy advocacy Organisation. We Draw attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights. CHRDI is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.