In Sierra Leone – Dr Sylvia Blyden subjected to torture, degrading and inhumane treatment in police custody

Pipul Pikin Network: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 May 2020:

Prominent Sierra Leone activist, journalist and philanthropist, Dr Sylvia Blyden was arrested on Friday, 1 May 2020, at 1:15pm (SL time) and taken in to custody, after being holed up in her home for several hours since morning under armed security barricade.

We note an alarming pattern of the Police Force deploying reckless and indiscriminate tactics, including while arresting Dr Blyden at her home, as well as exclusive evidence of torture and other ill-treatment.

The Police forcefully entered the building with a team of engineers to break into the residence of Dr Blyden’s where she was holed-up. While at the CID, Dr Blyden’s phones and laptop were forcefully taken-away from her.

We note that no protective measures from COVID-19 were taken during the interrogations and statement taking that lasted for at least several hours. The driver who had gone to deliver stuff to Dr Blyden was also unlawfully detained last night.

We note that Dr Blyden has been held in tight conferment, sleeping on the bare floor,  without food or medication in a cold and filthy cell without proper clothing.


Although no formal charges have been served on Dr Blyden, we, however note that Dr Blyden was arrested for interrogation by the police, on sham allegations stemming from the exercise of her right to freedom of speech and human rights activism since 2018.

Police said they were investigating messages of incitement sent in a WhatsApp group by Dr Blyden. None of these allegations are legitimate offences under international law since they criminalise free speech.

Dr Blyden has been detained solely for expressing her views online and offline and/or calling for good governance and better measures to tackle Covid-19.

The Police have deliberately  delayed taking the full statement from Dr Blyden with a view to  detain her for a longer period than allowed by law. Dr Blyden was refused bail, without legal justification.

The presumption of release pending trial is based on the presumption of innocence, which is enshrined in international law and recognised in the Sierra Leone constitution.

We call on the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), the Sierra Leone Bar Association, the Human Rights Commission and other national and international human rights bodies to take action to ensure the human right of Dr Blyden is fully respected ad protected.


We appreciate that a team of lawyers have agreed to provide legal assistance to Dr Blyden and are supporting her. However, we note that some lawyers and family members were refused access to meet Dr Blyden today.

This is clearly a violation of her human rights. The Pipul Pikin Network has therefore consulted and retained the legal services of a number of lawyers including the veteran international human rights lawyer Melron Nicol-Wilson Esq, former defence Counsel and Case Manager at the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and former Ombudsman of the Republic of Sierra Leone to provide legal assistance to Dr Blyden. Melron has a  long standing reputation as a human rights defender for many years, and with a good track record of representing clients regardless of political, tribal or economic status.

It is unfortunate that at the time when the international community is focused on the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sierra Leone authorities are investing time in accelerating arrest and dentition of activists and journalists.

By arresting and imprisoning Dr Blyden, the authorities are not only punishing Dr  Blyden for her free speech, but also endangering her health given the risks of a COVID 19  in prison.

We condemn any unlawful tactics by state authorities who may want to use the State of  Emergency laws and the  COVID 19 lockdown in Freetown to continue to detain Dr Blyden in custody without charge or the right to bail.

We fear that Dr Blyden may spend additional days in prison due to the current State of Emergency  in the country.

We continue to call on President Maada Bio to take full responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of Dr Blyden.

We continue to monitor the situation, engage and share credible updates/reports with our partners and human rights bodies in Sierra Leone and in the international community including the Africa Union, Ecowas, Commonwealth, European Union and United Nations system.

We will keep you all posted as things evolve.


  1. Have we not learnt any lessons from the past? Is there not a new road upon which we can travel?

  2. It’s unfortunate that people are not seeing things as they are or from the right direction. Sierra Leone and the safety and peace of his people must be everyone’s concern and not individual personal gain. This is not time for politic for goodness sake. It’s time to contribute in building up this nation. Let the people of Sierra Leone enjoy peace and gain from our resources, the minerals and fertile land. Let us comport ourselves and respect our leaders God has appointed.

  3. Interesting comments. I wonder how we would find a solution to sierra Leone’s numerous problems when all we get from a vast majority of people is either direct or indirect support for a political party than for Sierra Leone when discussing issues of national concern. I so long for the day when Sierra Leoneans all would only talk politics when elections are just round the corner and then join efforts with whosoever comes in as president to develop our beloved land after any national election.

    What we as a people do is take sides in lieu of addressing issues in a non-political fashion. In my humble opinion Sierra Leone can only develop when we have a government that is ready to rule fairly (I’m not saying the current government is not ruling fairly- that’s left with citizens to decide hopefully in 2023 – I’m not concerned about that here) and people who are ready to be ruled fairly. Sadly, but truly, this is not currently the case in my beloved Land.

    I’m by no means perfect and will never be but I know and reckon that respect for the next man starts when I learn to accommodate and respect his views and then give him convincing reasons to listen to my views if mine is contrary to his. Simply put, Sierra Leoneans need to discuss issues and not personalities – directly or indirectly.

    • Sorry to interrupt you Mr Peter Snell. I respect your views, but you seem to be “hors jeux” concerning the present political crisis in the making, caused by the reckless and barbaric behavior of President Bio’s presidential security guards. Also, we are not talking about anything here other than, the prison break that was never broken. It was all “dodgy hanky panky”. Indirect or direct support, is not part of the equation debate here. No one is going to sit down with a brutal Bio lead SLPP, to discuss solutions about slaughtering innocent prisoners and prison officers at Pademba Road Prisons, by President Bio’s presidential security guards.

      It must be a matter for the International Court of Justice to sort out. The Bio lead SLPP must GO. Concerning 2023, our strategy of election anxiety is working. You are right to mention it. Thanks. Everyone can now see it. People are just two nervous and wavering on all angles, thinking about 2023. Many Bio lead SLPP supporters are also worried, about which party to support, thinking of the reprisal after an APC lead coalition, which is definitely going to happen in 2023 and the unpopularity of President Bio and his Bio lead SLPP.

      I say to those voters, don’t worry, we will make sure, that reprisals never happen, as in the case with the Bio lead SLPP. There will be no past JUNTA at the helm of authority. That I will guarantee everyone. You are free to be a member of any other political party you wish. What a blood week, a bloody fire in hell, a blood in the hands of Bio lead SLPP and a bloody and dark day for Sierra Leone, prisoners and prison officers. God bless Mr Peter Snell. May the souls of all those who perished under the brutal and barbaric gunfire of President Bio’s presidential guards, R.I.P.

  4. Up to now there is no public statement from the government about the riots at Pademba road prison and about the condition of the imprisoned people – Blyden, Conteh and the others? What about statements from parties besides SLPP and APC or their supporters? Are they in fear?

  5. A safe exit must be the only option on the table for President Bio, for the Bio lead SLPP’s barbaric slaughtering of our citizens at Pademba Road Prisons, by President Bio’s security guards, Mr. Raymond Kartewu. Many thanks Raymond for that common sense suggestion. But, make no mistake. We will not relent in our efforts, to criticise the Bio lead SLPP and some of his unscrupulous and rogue Administration/SLPP party officials, for killing people in cold blood. We will make sure, that the criminal culprits, responsible for this cold blooded murder of our prisoners and prison officers face justice. It’s now unbearable.

    How long could Sierra Leoneans be patient, seeing people been murdered and the culprits getting away with it? Many Sierra Leoneans have died under this Presidents two year rule than the entire ten year APC rule of former president Ernest Bai Koroma. That is alarming and has to stop. Thank you very much Mr. Raymond Kartewu and may God bless you. May the almighty God help heal all the wounded in that slaughtering spree by President Bio’s security guards and may the souls of all those who died, R.I.P.

  6. You so called journalist are the most corrupt elements of this nation. Most of you are paid to write and talk such nonsense because you can’t easily feed your various home’s. Sierra Leone is a country that is rule by a Constitution and if anyone thinks his or her right is infringe on then the law will take it course. If you think Dr Blyden’s statement can not affect the peace and stability of this nation then we have the Constitution which will clarify that. So please save your time and think of other issues to write on.

    • Yes, Mr. Idrissa Irving Rogers. You are right. A constitution that is being Bastardise by the minute, by the Bio lead SLPP. What wrong have journalists done, to tell Sierra Leoneans about the barbaric, brutal and inhumane act of violence, perpetrated by President Bio’s presidential guards and some unscrupulous SLPP party officials, on peaceful prison officers and prisoners asking for their basic rights? Is doing that corruption? I hope you tell me something about corruption at the doorsteps of State House the next time.

      Also, don’t forget to tell me about President Bio’s SLPP thugs, the SLPP Chairlady, the deputy Ungentleman Minister of the interior and the CDS’ presence at Pademba Road Prisons in the early hours of that bloody, fatal and slaughtering day. Finally, what did Dr. Sylvia Blyden do? Should an NPRC JUNTA part III Coronavirus padlock be placed on her lips, for saying the truth?

      The Bio lead SLPP just have to release Dr. Sylvia Blyden unconditionally. PERIOD. God help Mr. Idrissa Irving Rogers condemn the bloody slaughtering of innocent prisoners and prison officers, in cold blood by President Bio’s presidential guards, rather than criticizing journalists for bringing out the facts. To Dr. Sylvia Blyden, I say again, be strong as always. You are not alone. Thousands, if not, millions of Dr. Sylvia Blydens have been made and they are all praying for you. God will surely release you from the hands of the tyrants. Amen and Amen.

  7. Our fellow citizens have been massacred at Pademba Road Prisons and now, Dr. Sylvia Blyden is been subdued to torture. SAD. More information for ICC. Folks, this was the secret behind the Bio lead SLPP NPRC Junta part III road map to a rogue 2023 election victory. Ramping up the COI to whatever conclusion, declaring an unnecessary State of Emergency to kill, arrest opposition leaders and members, setting up a cooked violent assassination attempt in the central prisons, to enable him and some unscrupulous Bio lead SLPP officials, to go on a killing spree, to kill, arrest and detain opposition party leaders, members and great women like Dr Sylvia Blyden. Everyone knows that, Dr Sylvia Blyden was arrested for saying the facts. Arresting Dr Sylvia Blyden has exposed the Bio lead SLPP further.
    With Coronavirus in the country, the Bio lead SLPP, took the advantage of trying to kill prisoners including political detainees by infecting them with the virus in my view. Why for heaven’s sake, could any sensible person, send someone testing positive with Coronavirus in a cramped prison like Pademba Road? With more than a thousand inmates in a prison that was built for 300 inmates, how can you apply social distancing in such an environment, With no Windows and no adequate ventilation system? Bottom line, another botched and cooked State sponsored strategy to kill Rtd, Major Paolo Conteh, all the political detainees and all the inmates in Pademba Road Prisons, by spreading State sponsored Coronavirus infection. That is an inhumane and catastrophic development happening under the nose of the Bio SLPP lead administration. The killing of the prisoners and prison officers by President Bio’s presidential guards and sending someone who has already been tested positive with Coronavirus, to the prison to infect other prisoners must be investigated. This is an overwhelming and more than gross violation of the human rights of our citizens. The ICC must start putting their team in place, which I believe, they will be doing. It was just a plot for mass murder. A JUNTA or killer is always a JUNTA or killer. PERIOD.
    Finally, the Bio lead SLPP JUNTA part III is responsible for the wellbeing of Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Rtd Major Paolo Conteh, Mrs Conteh and all the other political detainees. The Bio lead SLPP JUNTA part III Administration will be held accountable if anything happens with them. Saying sometime down the road, that they are ill due to Coronavirus or whatever, will be unacceptable. To Dr. Sylvia Blyden, I say, stay strong as always. You are not alone. In fact, many more Dr Sylvia Blydens have been born and made. God help protect Dr Sylvia Blyden and may God bless you.

  8. Salone, during the days of the APC, there were no calls for Human Rights Groups to come to the aid of the defenseless. Now they are in the Passenger Seat, they are complaining. If according to your Report she is sleeping on the Cold Floor without cover, is she better than other Sierra Leoneans that are sleeping on the bare floor in Detention across the country? Cheap Propaganda.

  9. The current crisis that has gripped the world has two fronts, Pandemic and Infodemic. It has affected national economies and humanity arround the world.

    Every government fighting this pandemic needs solidarity and support from the people. For some who may not know, people are being arrested in countries like the USA, Ethiopian, Senegal and a lot more for spreading fake information or inciting people to rise against the government in the global war against a virus that has taken close to a million lives.

    I do not know the full extent to which Madam Blyden must have gone to attract Police investigation into her online activities. I do know however, that if Madam Blyden really have grievances against the government concerning it’s handling of the crisis, there are so many media outlets she can openly use to either vent out her grievances or give suggestions to the government as which practices she thinks could be in the best interest of the nation, maybe a total 14 days lockdown of Freetown.

    It is good that even as you show concern about her rights to also condemn any act that would jeopardize efforts governments are making to save lives, of which she may by guilty or innocent. I do not think her rights are being abused because all your reports are based on speculation rather than fact. Even the picture used in this report may show less regard for social distancing, which probably couldn’t be avoided, but you can see everyone is putting on facemask. As journalists, to provide evidence to support your claims of her being tortured or inhumanly, provide pictures for people to see just like you did for the one used in his article.

    Who did the worst, Mr Conteh for taking a weapon to state house or Madam Blyden for sharing messages about the government around corners. I think this Government have, though not perfect, shown that human rights are valued, decreased corruption, improve government transparency and promoted the upholding of the rule of law, at least for this first term in power.

  10. Dear brothers and sisters, Sierra Leone is our home and if you are not allowed to express freedom of speech freely at home for the betterment of everyone, where else are we allowed. Maada Bio has a hidden agenda and he should be very careful as the world and international court of human rights are watching.

    What would it profit a man to retire peacefully than to lavish foolishly in prison. This should have been a time for Bio to build bridges, given his poor human rights record.

    What crime has this woman committed?; and also why would I send a truck load of armed officers to arrest an individual. Waste of resources, I should call it.

    First Pablo, then Pablo’s wife and now Sylvia.

    Please in the name of God I am appealing to Maada Bio directly, just as Moses said to Pharos “let them go in the name of God your maker”.
    We have a situation at hand which is of national security and resources should be better devoted to the fight against Covid-19.

    Please in the name of God – let them go.

  11. Maada Bio is a fix. The reality is people never voted for him to become President of Sierra Leone. The populace never wanted any relics of NPRC – and Maada Bio was forced through their throats. The people – including institutions – who aided and abetted such a miscalculated move would one day have to account for their actions; as he (Maada Bio) is now showing his true colours.

    For the past two years, Maada Bio has been trying or forcing the nation to accept him, but to no avail. However, being a power-thirsty freak, he is now trying by hook or by crook to impose himself. He knew he has failed on all fronts – economic, social and political. Now time is against him. Nonetheless, COVID-19 has provided another opportunity for him to force himself on the people by introducing inhumane and achaic measures; like the unnecessary and illegal year-long state of emergency. It looks like difficult times ahead for Sierra Leone … for sure. The endgame of this fiasco is embedded in the dark clouds of uncertainty. Only time will tell.

    • I hope we as a nation will manage this situation until Mazda Bio takes safe exist. Taking into considerations the ten year civil war, I hope all players will observe restraint, and take appropriate measures to calm down the situation. Above all the people are still poor and we don’t want any situation that will undermine their peace.

  12. Dear Sierra Leone Telegraph, please bring up and condemn this issue of Sierra Leoneans at home and especially in the diaspora calling for political violence and self-justice against governmental institutions and our administrative leadership. Enough of your coverage of these so called fake and hypocritical human right activists who happened to be called to duty only when their likes are in trouble.

    No international institution has the time and resources for  Human Right Issues in Salone, why?? Because USA is busy fighting a political partisan warfare (white nationalism is on the rise), Europe is witnessing the rise of fascism/nazism and Asia is deeply involved in territorial disputes ……… and APC / SLPP destroying the little that we have.

    We need a government of National Unity and I hope that the Telegraph would invest more time and energy in hammering this life saving CALL for our Salone.
    Tell EBK and Bio that the silent majority’s human rights are far far more important than this never ending blame game between these two!!!

    • “Dear Sierra Leone Telegraph, please bring up and condemn this issue of Sierra Leoneans at home and especially in the diaspora calling for political violence and self-justice against governmental institutions and our administrative leadership,” says Anthony Moiba. Mr Moiba we do not publish any comment or story inciting violence and you very well know it. You may disagree with what your colleagues here are posting but please do not misconstrue our editorial policy. Keep reading, keep posting and keep it clean! Thank you.

    • Sorry, but I never accused you of publishing comments or stories inciting violence! I was trying to draw your attention to the social media that is today the playing ground for political violence.

      The incident in Lunsar, Pademba Road and many around the country is the result of Sierra Leoneans bent on destroying the little that we have through the social media. I think it’s high time we focused our attention on this deadly disease!

      Every day, misguided empty heads are calling for the burning down of our institutions without any outcry from the Salone media. You will agree with me that Freetown is just too vulnerable to fire, and if that’s the case, then why for God’s sake can’t we speak with one voice to condemn such crimes??

      My next point is National Cohesion, it’s completely lacking in our news media, focus is only on APC/SLPP blame game. We cannot leave the issue of National Cohesion only in the hands of politicians, because of manipulation!!  Why can’t the Telegraph bring up issues like how best we can come together to develop our country in a Government of National Unity??

      My dear Telegraph, I’m sick and tired of this blame game!!!

      • I get you Mr Moiba! Understod clearly Sir. Please search the Sierra Leone Telegraph for contents, and you will find countless number of stories we have published calling for national unity government, as well as putting forward proposals to this goovernment for national reconciliation and cohesion, led by an independent body such as the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone. Sadly, this govenment does not listen to anyone who is not a part of the government or a paid up member of the SLPP party. What a shame! I know and they know what I am talking about, so lets leave it there, my dear brother. Thanks.

    • Mr. Anthony Moiba. I respect your views as always. But, do you think, any of our sober minded opposition party officials will sit down with the Bio lead SLPP in any government of national unity? Your idea is a very welcome one, but that is not going to happen with a Bio lead SLPP. Remember what happened with Rtd Major Paolo Conteh? More important, no opposition leader will want to associate themselves with this Bio lead SLPP Administration. They will never want to answer at the ICC for any criminal act perpetrated by the Bio lead SLPP government.

      Never again, should any bogus and botched up situation like what happened to Rtd Major Paolo Conteh, happen to any of our blessed opposition leaders and members. Sierra Leone is just blessed to have the best and most responsible opposition ever in our country’s history. If it was not for our opposition, the country should have gone into flames a long time ago. Bottom line, the Bio lead SLPP must GO. That is what we must all be working towards. God bless you.

  13. Hahahaha! International Community my foot. They said the same thing about Palo the thug, that he was poorly treated until a human rights organization visited Pademba Road and revealed that Palo was well taken care of.

    Look, reputation means everything. APC has a sordid and repugnant reputation both in Sierra Leone and abroad. The only folks that would buy into their propagandist rubbish are hardcore APC members. The International Community relies on its representation in Sierra Leone for reliable information about that country. So, no non-APC member is going to feel sorry for that dastardly lawless political outfit.

    If the clashes between the government and the APC were instead between the government and say the NGC, all hell would have broken loose. I would have been the first to condemn the government because I know the NGC to be a classy, law-abiding and democratic formation.

    It follows that APC must renounce violence and lawlessness if it wants its members to avoid police arrest. Alternatively, the more APC resorts to lawlessness, the more it will be pummeled by the government because the government has the mandate to protect life and property in Sierra Leone.

    • Well said my friend! Indeed, no credible international institutions will have time for the APC and their families propaganda. Their ploys have been canceled in advance by well meaning international officials and among many Sierra Leoneans. We now seeking for discipline and corrupt free nation.

  14. Police said they were investigating messages of incitement sent in a WhatsApp group by Dr Blyden”

    As suspected all along, Dr. Blyden was arrested simply for exercising her basic human rights of the freedom to express herself enshrined in our nation’s constitution. Sierra Leone has indeed become a tyrant state.

    • I don’t know that you are educated enough to know that, anyone has also the right to waive his or her human rights? This is exactly what the APC people are doing. They are waiving their own human rights and freedom of speech. So once they waive their rights, these are the things they will get.

    • As the responsibility of the government is to protect the country against national and international aggression,and to make sure that the citizens of Sierra Leone are well protected, I therefore crave on the indulgence of the president to please pardon the citizens that are under detention at this critical time.

      If not, I therefore crave on the indulgence of the journalists, the human rights activists and all those that are involved to please make sure that all those that are under detention are judged / investigated credibly. And I thank all the media houses for updating us about issues like this, especially the Sierra Leone Telegraph. May Allah bless you and protect you all for your good work.

  15. This of your story about Sylvia is biased, one sided and supportive of her actions of inciting riot and violent attack on the peace of the country There is an audio message from her shortly before she was arrested. In that audio message she said that she was going to open her gate since police have come to arrest her. She also told members of her WhatsApp groups to delete her name from all those groups since she is about to be arrested. This type of behaviors are not expected of a former minister and statewoman.I will share it to anyone who is interested by sending his or her number to me +23276653048

    • “There is an audio message from her shortly before she was arrested. In that audio message she said that she was going to open her gate since police have come to arrest her. She also told members of her WhatsApp groups to delete her name from all those groups since she is about to be arrested.”

      What is the exact crime if she indeed said what you are claiming; is anything wrong for one to express his/her grievances? You guys continue to bemuse me. This is typical case of ‘’much to do about nothing”. Remember guys, politics is a game, no one side will continue to score wining goals permanently.

    • When did Sylvia Blyden incite riot and attack on the state. You guys are obsessed with this smart krio gyal. Geez! I said it before and I will say it again: Mr editor you need to clamp down on people making outlandish allegations they cannot substantiate on a matter that is being investigated by police.

      Spreading outright lies which even the police themselves are now struggling to provide evidence is nothing short of criminality. But then what do we expect from green toads. Nothing but criminality and babarism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.