Sierra Leone civil society activist Thomas Moore Conteh released on bail

Amin Kef: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 March 2020:

One of Sierra Leone’s vibrant civil society activist, Thomas Moore Conteh, who was arrested on the 5th March 2020 by the police during a peaceful protest by some disenchanted students of the Limkokwing students, appeared in a jam-packed Magistrate Court in Freetown last Friday 6th March, where he was granted a Le150,000,000 bail by Magistrate. He will appear again in court on the 12th March 2020.

Rashid Dumbuya Esq ,the lead Counsel of over fifty legal representatives  who came forward in court to defend Thomas Moore had this to say: “In my almost 10 years of practise as a human rights lawyer defending accused persons in court, I have never felt so timid but for this case. The passion and emotions that was bubbling from within was just uncontrollable. But thank God for divine wisdom and for showing Himself strong on our behalf.”

Indeed, the unity of the legal team and the support from civil society organisations and Linkokwing University students were indeed exemplary.

According to Lawyer Rashid, “while we keep celebrating the release of Thomas Moore Conteh, let us also remember that the issue of Limkokwing University has still not been resolved. We must therefore continue with our constructive engagements with the State so that the Limkokwing University saga will be resolved amicably and in a way that will ultimately guarantee the right to Education of the affected students who have been out of classes for about six months now.”

He said that the free quality education programme, which is a priority in the New Direction manifesto, must not be allowed to be undermined.

He maintained that Sierra Leone is a democracy and not an autocratic system of Government, hence, the need for absolute respect for fundamental human rights as enshrined in national and international law. (Photo: President Bio).

The lead Counsel also said that “education is an empowerment right and any attempt by the State to deprive an individual of that right is an attempt to render that individual as menace to society.”

He admonished all to desist from commenting on the case before the court’s decision, since the matter is now sub- judice.

It must be noted that a fundamental characteristic of modern democratic States is the existence of the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by the public authority.

The 1991 Constitution provides that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. As such, the approach of the Court is to give the term its literal and linguistic meaning as it applies to natural and legal persons.

The right, under the European Convention on Human Rights is supposed to be interpreted by the Court as being available to a range of natural persons including journalists in Goodwin v United Kingdom (1996), civil servants in Vogt v Germany (1995), serving members of the military in Engel v Netherlands (1976).

It has also been found to apply to publishers in Unabhangige Initiative Informations Viefalt v Austria (2003) and to newspapers in Sunday Times v United Kingdom (1979).

The right to freedom of expression is not only a primary cornerstone of democracy but also prerequisite for the enjoyment of many of the other rights and freedoms enshrined in the AU and ECOWAS Convention on Human Rights.

However, freedom of expression is subject to certain restrictions that are ‘in accordance with law’ and necessary ‘in a democratic society’.

Generally, the right to freedom of expression includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas. It constitutes one of the essential foundations of a society and therefore the right is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.

Any consideration of freedom of expression must therefore recognize not just the underlying principles behind freedom of expression but also the interrelationship between freedom of expression and democracy.

As a general point therefore, when assessing freedom of expression, consideration should be given to the relationship between it and another fundamental constitutional right – the right to freedom of association.

However, under Sierra Leone law, the Public Order Act 1965 allows the State to impose limitations on these rights.

Under the law, an interference with freedom of speech and association must satisfy the following criteria: It must be prescribed by law, it must be necessary in a democratic society; should pursue a legitimate aim; any measures taken must be proportionate to the aim being pursued.

When all is said and done, in a democracy, the primary obligation of the State is to refrain from unlawful interferences with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

The mechanisms of the State, must avoid any legislative, judicial or administrative interference with the rights to freedom of expression and association. As a general rule all restrictions on freedom of expression are to be discouraged.

This further implies that the State is to take positive measures to promote the right to freedom of expression and association.

6 Comments

  1. Nervous indeed about our political strategies. Strategies that would be more calibrated and precise to heat the nucleus of Sierra Leone’s political arena. It’s better for me to ignore Mr. David Bangura and focus on the issues as the Editor has stated. I am not going to display rudeness on this glorious platform where more than 26000 respected people are reading and getting the facts each day. What I will do and trying to do, is to hammer home the message to all voters including SLPP voters to make sure we capture State House in 2023.

    2023 is not far as stated by Mr. David Bangura. Our strategies are going as planned. Again, “On va les ecraser politiquement”. We are here to stay and hammer the facts out for voters not to be fooled as in 2018. Engaging in personal attacks will make me lose that course which I don’t want. So, no distraction, no intimidation, no personal attacks. I will continue hammering the facts out there, pile up the pressure and put opponents on the defensive and inflict election anxiety in their minds. That’s the best way to snatch State House from the tyrants.

    Mr. David Bangura somewhere there, trying to educate me on reputation assassination. God help Mr David Bangura control his temperament in response to my cool comments. God bless Mr David Bangura.

  2. This good for nothing SLPP is not going to ever win an election in Sierra Leone ever again, because they have proven themselves to be incompetent,freeloading bunch of ignoramuses.(lol) I mean seriously, who would vote for a deplorable, tribalist that stole donated rice, belonging to the poorest of the poor among us? Who would be so silly to stand in long lines,under the scorching sun,and cast another vote,in vain,for an inept President wasting money and time getting married, when there are tons and staggering amounts of work for him to do? Again,who in their right minds,will throw away their votes,to the pits of hell,in support of rampant thefts,barbarisms,and unchecked violence.

    And,who is it among you millions languishing in abject poverty in our Sierra Leone,that would want to continue to suffer,
    and witness another senseless era,full to the brim,and overflowing with fruitless,mindless, confounding,episodes,of confused,wild goose chases,and tireless,empty bowl begging? (lol) Answer – What if the portion given to you by the hands of the divine,was being brazenly, and wickedly stolen from you;What will you do?Will you stand by,and suffer,watching the thief get away? Or will you confront,and fight tooth and nail to retrieve what is rightfully yours?(lol)Think on thee things, folks, and next time you stand in line,Vote Red! Vote APC! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  3. Oh. Tyranny all the way. The Bio Administration will never stop its unlawful incarceration and gross human rights abuse/violations on peaceful Sierra Leoneans. This barbarity and law of the Junta rule is going to continue till 2023 I’m afraid. The fact that voters in the south and some areas in the south east are returning to the PMDC and the NGC tells every Sierra Leonean that, victory will be achieved in 2023. Also, voters in these area are done with this Administration because of their barbaric acts.

    The SLPP, because of the behavior of this Administration, has lost grounds on every corner of the political divide. The fact that voters are turning away from the SLPP and moving towards the PMDC and the NGC, is good news for the APC in particular and the opposition parties in general. It also explains to me, how our messages to the voters are becoming effective. Our strategy is going as planned. Can you imagine?

    So, ladies and gentlemen, the only way to stop this barbarity, gross human rights violations and unlawful incarceration of peaceful Sierra Leoneans, is to continue to hammer these reckless and irresponsible actions perpetrated by some officials in the Bio Administration for the world to hear. The more we expose these reckless acts, the better. God bless and help Mr. Conteh and all those unlawfully incarcerated.

    • “The fact that voters in the south and some areas in the south east are returning to the PMDC and the NGC tells every Sierra Leonean that, victory will be achieved in 2023. Also, voters in these area are done with this Administration because of their barbaric acts.” Sahr Matturi

      Sahr Matturi,

      You call the above wishful thinking a fact? Where is your source? Sahr, why have you resorted to blatant lying to score cheap political points on this forum? Must you respond to each and every posting just to tarnish whatever is remaining of your already tattered reputation?

      Why the desperation, my brother? One day you will rant that APC will win the 2023 elections. The other day you will cry that the SLPP is planning to rig the 2023 elections.

      2023 is very far away. I hope you are currently involved in meaningful engagements. When 2023 finally arrives, you will have no choice but to deal with the grief of staying in opposition for five more years.

  4. Well folks,I beg to differ – This government is actually an autocracy,being controlled by tribalists; Idolaters,who worship Power,men who strongly believe in Hitler’s demonic Nazi ideology. An evil,erratic bunch of men,they are, drowning in bitterness,seeking revenge and anxious to vigorously bring to fruition their mean-spirited ,arrogant Gestapo ideas, and policies,swiftly from behind the scenes,Listen their aim is not build but to destroy,and to wickedly reduce years of progress attained to rubble. Every SLPP government in power since our nation’s Independence has been a complete disaster, totally and strangely, inept,undisciplined,unprepared,and unfit to govern,and effectively rule our beloved Sierra Leone,my one and only home. True!To put simply they lack the skills and abilities needed to govern creatively,calmly,and wisely in peace.Yep,that enviable,credible midas touch every true leadership must possess,in order to thrive,and succeed is totally missing,from their filthy, tribalistic,unfruitful hands.(lol)These SLPP dullards,gobbling huge salaries,an army of good for nothing’s they are ,who absolutely have no idea,how to use their empty,book cramming heads,in creative ways to bring our
    people under one umbrella of unity,are nothing but lousy free loaders. A strategy that could be shrewdly and strategically used to enhance our fragile democracy,solidify and facilitate national cohesion, and progress is nowhere, anywhere in sight .Such a small incident,that could have been settled with just a few warm handshakes,and heartfelt,kind words,has been transformed into an impending threat of war by the SLPP – into a moment for promoting and facilitating strife,hatred,and discord. Hypocrites,and Con artists,they are,who don’t really believe in the benefits of education,at all Their lawless actions against a law abiding civil activist Mr Conteh,and amiable,concerned students wanting only to make their patriotic voices distinctly heard,speaks volumes,about the margins of SLPP ignorance, not to even mention the stupefying, shocking,frightening levels,and depths of their stupidities,and shady,deplorable,attitudes.(lol)Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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