Abdul Fatoma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 February 2018
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International-CHRDI, has been following security discussions between the country’s security agencies and political parties about the free movement of people and vehicles in the country on elections day March 7, 2018.
CHRDI is further concerned about the reports of a stand off between the police and over 9 registered political parties over the issue. The Government of Sierra Leone needs to be mindful of the use of laws and powers conferred on state actors to circumvent human rights protections contained in the constitution.
The use of state of emergency laws when the country is not in a state of declared emergency should not be used as a stranglehold to restrict the free movement and assembly of people, which is tantamount to a blatant disrespect for the rule of law and democracy.
CHRDI calls on the Sierra Leone Government to fully and effectively respect the country’s constitution, and honour its mandatory international obligations to protect the human rights of every Sierra Leonean including the freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.
As a fundamental right of citizens guaranteed under Article 13 of the African Charter on Human Rights, People’s Rights (African Charter) and a principal means for exercising the right of people’s self-determination under Article 20 of the Africa Charter, CHRDI affirms that free and fair elections legally oblige all political actors to abide by and respect the legally established processes at the stage of the elections.
It is essential that all those participating in the electoral process are able to move without restriction and/or fear and have access to all electoral events and related venues (e.g., voter registration, political rallies, polling stations).
This applies not only to members of political organizations and their supporters, or government officials but also to voters and the general population.
Restrictions are permitted only if provided by law and insofar as these are necessary to protect national security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others and are consistent with the enjoyment of other civil and political rights.
The proposed ban on people and vehicular movement meets neither of these objectives nor is it justified in a democratic state. It is also contrary to international best practice.
The 1991 Constitution
CHAPTER III – THE RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL
“18. (1) No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement, and for the purpose of this section the said freedom means the right to move freely throughout Sierra Leone, the right to reside in any part of Sierra Leone, the right to enter or leave Sierra Leone, and immunity from expulsion from Sierra Leone.
The Government of Sierra Leone should therefore respect this constitutional provision and not seek to violate the rights of its citizens unjustly.”
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International-CHRDI, also wishes to appeal to all political actors and other sections of the public to avoid statements or any acts of violence that may further fuel the tension already existing in the country.
We are also urging all political parties and candidates to respect the election laws and regulations and use the legal process established for resolving any disputes relating to the election processes, and call on the people of Sierra Leone to remain calm and allow the electoral process to take its legally established course without resorting to violence. individuals involve(d) will be held personally responsible for their actions.
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.