Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 September 2019:
Reaction to yesterday’s public humiliation of teachers in Sierra Leone suspected of examination malpractice, before they are charged to court, continues. Sierra Leone’s Human Rights Commission has published this statement:
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has been following reports of widespread examination malpractices in the country. The HRCSL strongly condemns such acts by everyone involved.
HRCSL is of the opinion that such act undermines the credibility of the country’s educational system and government’s efforts in promoting socio-economic development through quality education.
HRCSL has been closely monitoring the incident that occurred on Saturday 7th September at the Fatibu School in Wellington in which six persons were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission on allegations of examination malpractices.
The Commission on Monday 9th September further monitored the public display of the suspects arrested during Saturday’s raid at the Cotton Tree in the center of Freetown.
The suspects were handcuffed and had placards with inscriptions around their necks admitting guilt in full view of the public even before being tried in a competent court of law thereby defeating the principle of the presumption of innocence.
While the Commission wholeheartedly applauds the efforts of the ACC in the fight against corruption, particularly the fight against examination malpractices in the country, the Commission equally condemns such public display which suggests guilt without due process.
The Commission considers such act as inhuman and degrading and runs contrary to Section 20(1) of the 1991 Constitution, Article 5 of the UDHR, Articles 7& 10 of the ICCPR and Article 5 of the ACHPR.
The Commission strongly believes that the action by the ACC in publicly displaying suspects exposes them to the risk of harm and it undermines their rights to life, security and fair trial. The Commission calls on the ACC to follow due process at all times.
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone remains committed to building a culture of respect for human rights within the nation of Sierra Leone.
SIGNED: Patricia Narsu NDANEMA – Chairman.
COMMISSIONERS: Patricia N. Ndanema; Victor I. Lansana Esq; Hassan S. Yarjah; Simitie Lavaly Esq and Dr. Gassan Abess.
This is the statement published by the teachers’ Union in response to yesterday’s ACC action:
“The Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union wishes to note with grave concern the rampant attempts by some indiviuals in the Sierra Leone society to promote naked exams malpractices, cheating or aiding and abetting pupils in the ongoing exams conducted by WAEC. These individuals deserve to be brought before the law and seriously dealt with.
“However the SLTU wishes to condemn in the strongest possible terms the treatment meted out to some teachers and heads of schools whose dignity and human righst have been violated on the directives of the Anti Corruption Commission and the Sierra Leone Police. There is certainly no law in the land that permits suspected persons to be publicly molested, paraded on put on public display at the Cotton Tree Law Court Building as it happened on the 9th September 2019.
“While we would continue to work with the ACC to fight against corruption, eradicartion of eaxm malpractices and sanitisation of the education system, we would strongly resisit any attempt by any individual or institution seeking to unlawfully molest teachers or bring down the dignity of the profession.
“Meanwhile we want to admonish all teachers to stay calm, be law abiding and allow the due process of the law to take precedence.”