In Sierra Leone – senior government officials assault female doctor while police strips female student protester

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 April 2021:

Sierra Leone’s police force has established a bad reputation for itself in its fight against peaceful civil protests. It is now resorting to beating and removing the tops of female protesters during arrests, before being thrown into open police trucks like sacks of flour, driven across the city in humiliation and shame to be interrogated at the station.

Yesterday, hundreds of students at the Institute of Public Administration (IPAM) took part in peaceful protest against the institution’s management, after failing to release the names of hundreds of graduating students without reasonable explanation.

Over 500 students were supposed to have graduated this year from IPAM. However, the university has only published a list of 100.  The angry students are demanding answers.

Police stormed the campus, firing teargas and smoke bombs at students seeking refuge inside the building.

A female student – Fatmata Binta Barrie, was arrested, beaten and stripped before she was bungled into the back of an open truck for public display as they drove her to the CID for interrogation.

Human rights groups are questioning the abusive behaviour of the police that are now targeting female protesters with such degrading act, aimed at humiliating, and intimidating other women from taking part in peaceful protests.

But it seems it is not only the police that are assaulting female peaceful protesters. Earlier today, a senior female doctor at the Freetown Connaught Hospital – Dr. Catherine Jackson – Cole was assaulted by senior ministry of health officials in the presence of the police and the deputy minister of health.

The protest by the doctors and nurses was over the huge and unsightly mountain of rubbish that can be seen inside the hospital, after cleaners refused to collect the rubbish because of the government’s failure to pay their wages for several months.

According to Dr Catherine Jackson – Cole (video above), she was assaulted after being accused by government officials of sharing a photo on social media showing uncollected rubbish at the Connaught hospital. She was accused by the officials of damaging the SLPP government’s image abroad.

But critics say that the Bio government is now embarking on the destruction of the country’s image – all by itself, without the assistance of peaceful protesters, whose only crimne is to call on the government to pay the salaries of cleaners at the hospital.

It is also reported that the Permanent Secretary and Chief Medical Officer assaulted a nurse at the Connaught Hospital during the protest.

Dr Catherine Jackson – Cole later went to the Central police station to make her complaint against the government officials who assaulted her. The entire medical staff, doctors, nurses, lab technicians and cleaners accompanied her to the police department.

Meanwhile, a statement was released today by Mr Abu Bakarr Benson – a Youth and Girls Advocate calling for justice for Fatmata Binta Barrie – the female student of IPAM who was beaten, stripped and arrested by police yesterday. This is what he said:

“For far too long we’ve been preaching about the unprofessional conduct of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) especially when it comes to riot/conflict managements. But I think it is getting to a point wherein some of us cannot be silence any longer. Yesterday after watching this video (I shared below) of a female student of IPAM by the name of Fatmata Binta Barrie who was molested, beaten, and almost stripped naked by the Sierra Leone Police, I asked myself this question, what the hell of the hypocrisy that we are committed to safeguarding the right, honour, and wellbeing of our women and girls?

“What amount of disorder will sum up to such an abuse by the SLP of a woman, a student, whom with no reservations was protesting for what is due for her? Let’s assume her protest (and resistance) was illegitimate but did that sum up to such an abuse by over 10 police officer, beaten and disrespected the honour of that lady? This is totally unacceptable!

“Today she will be charged to court together with four others. I want to use this medium to call on all women’s groups, civil society organizations, the judiciary, activists and advocates for women and girls to fight for justice for this young lady. No longer should anybody take our women for granted. We refuse to give a blind eye to all forms of abuse against our women and girls. Enough is enough”.

Photo below – showing one of the Twitter posts by Dr catherine Jackson-Cole that angered the Bio government:

14 Comments

  1. Companies get contracts without vetting them for financial capacity and otherwise. The Cleaner’s are employees of a private contractor not Connaught Hospital or the government. All personnel issues including payroll should be handled in-house by the contractor. Once the employer(the contractor) sends out their employee to work at a job site, it is their responsibility to have existing funds in their company’s account to pay them. Non payment for services performed by a contractor to the owner( in this case Connaught Hospital/The government) is a breach of contract and that account should have been terminated. But those are two separate issues. The contractor cannot send their employees to perform services without having funds in their account to pay those employees.

    The payment for services performed by the cleaner for their employer( The contractor) is not incumbent upon contractual agreements between the contractor and owner( Connaught Hospital/government). Why continue sending these hard working people to a job site when you know that you either have contractual and or cash flow issues. It seems like a badly run company is getting a pass because of course in Sierra Leone everything is seen through politics.

  2. The image of Sierra Leone is going down. The Athens of West Africa? If the situation continues the government should shut down the ministry of tourism.

  3. “To be educated is one thing and to be enlightened is another”. Issues like the garbage collection at the hospital had nothing to do with propagandist sounding as if it is politics playing game. This issue should be looked into from different vantage points such as administrative issue; National Civil Registration Authority (NaCRA) verification; disloyalty issue; volunteer workers without PIN code issue; management style issue, but not politics. Please note that the connaught hospital among others is undergoing positive reforms that now prevent Doctors from physically handling cash from patients whenever they go to the hospital. Patients are now accorded the opportunity to be diagnosed of their problems first and later asked to pay their charges to the hospital bank. The bank slip is what you submit and you are being treated. As a result of such development,the citizenry of the capital city of Sierra Leone and outside the city are very pleased with such development now than before when you have to visit several doctors for one sick and each doctor naming it’s own cost to carry out the treatment.

    If garbage collection was not an issue before why now? If payment of cleaners was not an issue before why now? We all are aware of the rise in salaries for Doctors and nurses across the country which happened shortly after H.E Dr.Julius Maada Bio came to power. Under his leadership, he was able to addressed the problems of the Doctors and nurses across the country who we considered as professionals and should be accorded that befitting treatment. If the issue of Doctors and nurses was addressed how difficult do you think labourers issues would become when they are just volunteers? Let think of it intuitively and reflect on some of the wrong calculative manipulations of some of our citizens as a ploy to achieve their personal gains.

    With regard the IPAM issue, it is rather unfortunate that I was not at the scene. The issue at hand might be sensitive to address. This is because it bothers on the future of the individual and at the same time causing an array of fear and instability to the state by inciting others to engage in a terrorist act. We need to thread cautiously with such unfortunate situations as we all long to see our city to be peaceful and stable. There is time for every purpose.

  4. What a ridiculous and shameful act of inhuman vandalism on our women by the police and some blokes in authority who should know better. There must be an investigation into this matter, and heads must roll. Such stories are detrimental to the image of our country worldwide and the support it needs from donors. How do you expect people to take this government and our country seriously? No way, ladies and gentlemen. Sierra Leone does not deserve such reckless and unethical behaviour and attack on our women by anyone. Whether in government or out of government. The police must handle our girls and women with respect and decency. Period!

    Anything to the contrary is gross indiscipline and indecency by a bunch of rogue political thugs. You hear of such barbaric acts against women during wars. But here we are in 2021, in broad daylight and real-time seeing our women being molested by a bunch of misguided nincompoops. SAD to be a Sierra Leonean under such disgusting circumstances. Girls, women, and Ladies of Sierra Leone note what is happening to your fellow genders.

    Follow all democratic political forces and alliances to ensure their butts are kicked out of power at the ballot box in 2013 without mercy. Long live the great women of Sierra Leone, and may God bless Dr Catherine Jackson and all our molested women. Help is on its way. “We day na road”. Amen and Amen. Father God.

    • I can understand my Prof’s frustration, now he made one big mistake by saying 2013 instead of 2023… Haaaaaaa bro, 2013 is already dead long time ago. I can remember it was the year that I got my first child. Too much focus now on Bio, but he still has 7 more years to go. Have some fun bro and take care.

    • Thank you very much Mr Brima Sesay. It’s not only frustration as you rightly suggested, but logical reasoning limits too. God bless Mr. Brima Sesay for correcting me.

  5. The irony of the Police action. Just the other day their Inspector General was on Radio Democracy talking about the Senior Management going on a retreat to review, among other things, their conduct with a view to IMPROVING their image.

    And now this latest uncivilised conduct by the Police. It appears that retreat was an occasion for merry-making and not what it was intended for. 0

  6. Hahahaha…Honourable Abdul Rashid Thomas to the rescue of the inept Criminal SLPP Cabal once again. Folks, he is exactly what most prudent and discerning minds expect the Quintessential Sierra Leonean to look like – tough, alert, intelligent and self-contained. Words are like tools Sir, sometimes an iron hammer fits the job at hand and in other times it could be a chain saw.(lol)

    Indeed, it has been proven beyond all doubt that you are a rare gem among ordinary stones; a blessed soul that has the best interests of our little struggling country tucked away in the depths of your generous, thoughtful heart. Appreciate the advice Sir.

  7. If you want to know the difference between oppression and democratic pluralism or for better choice of words a country under the grip of dictatorship look no further. When a country is governed under such nightmare scenario, as evident in Bio’s Sierra Leone, the rule of law and respect for human rights and free press do not apply. It becomes more like the mob rule. The Sierra Leone police officers, and the minister involved in these assaults on two females hark back to memories of when drugged up RUF child soldiers used to engaged in such waton disregard for human life and engaged in an ogry of violence against women and girls. These police officers have just swapped their rag tag clothes and flip flops for official uniforms of the Sierra Leone police. They might put on the respectable Sierra Leone police force uniform, but their behaviour towards women are no different from when the RUF rebles use to run amok in villages and towns up and down the country. The tiger will never change its spot unless you skin it alive. Now we want to hear from the inspector General of police.

    It is now official for the Sierra Leone police to strip women and girls naked in our country that are only protesting for better standard of living? We want to know so at least we know where we stand. What has Bio the president got to say to his minister that assaulted the medical nurse? It seems there is one rule for Bio and his government and a different rule for the rest of us. While we are at it, you want to remove our Mayor for a charge of making a statement against the Mende tribe. For which she apologised. Her statement was taken out of context but that was beside the point. She is already in the cross hairs of Bio’s tribalistic driven men. As for the Mayor’s statement, no one got physically hurt. And she acknowledged her mistake and apologised. Now here is a member of your government behaving like a street thug. Will Bio apologise to the two women that were assaulted by your officials?

    Which brings me to the other side of the story. Where is the statement of condemnation, or outrage from our religious organisation, civil society organisations, human rights groups, SLAJ, the opposition parties. Don’t wait until next year to come out of your egg shells and start making half hearted statements. Your silence is complicit to what is happening under this Bio government. Violence against women and girls are real. And its lead by Bio himself. Hitler, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin were never condemned at first. And look what they left in their wake.

  8. What a lawless and thuggish regime!! Unbelievable that a cabinet member (deputy health minister), permanent secretary and chief medical officer, will stoop so low in assaulting a female doctor, for simply exposing deplorable working environment at our one and only referral hospital in the nation. Wow, these PAOPA guys never cease to amaze the public. Since when did our nation become a North Korean copycat? Salone people, wuna don make the biggest mistake ever, for gi den man den ya power.

  9. This is exactly what happens when a bunch of opportunists are elected by the gullible,poor masses to manage the daily affairs of a poor struggling,fragmented nation like Sierra Leone. This President is unfit,he doesn’t have what it takes to rule Sierra Leone and move it forward judiciously towards the paths of sustainable peace,stability and progress;He’s an anarchist that lacks refined intuition and his impulses and vision are totally distorted and clouded like a Bo school dropout inebriated by gallons of sweet palm wine. (lol)

    The foremost duty of the Police Force is to serve and protect lives and property not to bully,harass,intimidate and strip women naked. What a bunch of Perverts they are. What has Sierra Leone become? We now have a misogynist as our President, a wicked thief for a Finance Minister, a freeloader as our Chief Minister, a Gold digger as our first lady, a crowd of imposters posing as Professors and a conniving,corrupt Police force. Shame on the Sierra Leone Police.

    • Mr Stargazer – you will observe that I have significantly removed sections of your comment that totally go against the policy of this forum. Please mind your language. You may disagree with the policies and behaviour of public offcials, including the president but please restrain your use of language. Thank you.

  10. Absolutely scandalous. A police force ‘skilled’ in thuggery and out to intimidate and brutalise harmless students who are simply exercising their right enshrined in our Constitution to air their views and demand what is due them in a free, democratic society. Free and democratic our country might indeed be in principle, but the actions of its leadership and security forces hark back to an Africa of repressive, dictatorial regimes, where dissent could cost one her/his very freedom or even life. The Bokassas, Amins, Mabutus and Toures among many other past dictators and their brutal and sanguinary regimes seem to cast a very long, ugly shadow.

    And the brutal humiliation of poor Fatmata Binta Barrie is further evidence of the quintessential vacuity of the so-called HANDS OFF OUR GIRLS publicity stunt, fronted by our political leadership. The hypocrisy and mendacity of it all stink to high heaven. But you should really not expect anything other than intolerance and savagery towards women by the police in a country such as ours whose leader recently humiliated publicly a female journalist for daring, it would seem, to ask him the wrong question. Our police and armed forces are no more than an extension of the brutalism and masculinism at the heart of our current leadership. Remember this: Bio was once a soldier, or rather, a sobel. Perhaps he still is.

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