ECOWAS court orders Sierra Leone government to compensate student shot during peaceful protest

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 February 2024:

Advocaid announced yesterday that the ECOWAS Court has issued a groundbreaking judgement, ordering the government of Sierra Leone to pay compensation to a student who was shot during peaceful protest in Bo in 2017. Advocaid said that this is “a critical step forward for police accountability.” (Photo above: Unarmed prisoners at Pademba Road, Freetown, killed and tortured by security forces with impunity during protest in April 2020).

Mohamed Morlu, a former student in Bo was shot in his abdomen by police in March 2017, and brought legal action at the ECOWAS Court against the government of Sierra Leone in 2022, claiming that the police had violated his right to security and freedom from torture.

Mr. Morlu’s lawyers also argued that the government of Sierra Leone violated his right to remedy when they failed to investigate and bring to justice, those responsible for his life changing injuries.

His case was taken to the ECOWAS Court with the support of Advocaid and the Institute for Human Rights Development in Africa (IHRDA). Passing judgement, the ECOWAS Court agreed that the government of Sierra Leone was responsible for violating serveral of Mr Morlu’s rights under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture (CAT); and ordered the government of Sierra Leone to pay financial compensation to Mr Morlu for his injuries and suffering, including infringement of his rights.

Eleanor Thompson, legal advocate for Mr Morlu said: “Today’s ECOWAS Court decision is a win for the survivors and for police accountability in Sierra Leone. It adds to jurisprudence on what amounts to torture by law enforcement during protests. Proud to have been part of this legal team.”

The Sierra Leone Telegraph is hopeful, that this landmark case and judgement against the government of Sierra Leone, will help many of the families of hundreds of protesters unlawfully tortured and killed during protests in the last five years, under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio in Freetown, Makeni, Kambia, Lunsar, and other towns; not forgettiing the 67 unarmed prisoners shot dead  in cold blood at Pademba Road by heavily armed Presidential Guards, seek the justice they deserve.

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