Sierra Leone police accused of persecuting Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh’s Family

Robin Jack Barbara Kamara: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 March 2024:

Today Thursday, 7th March 2024, in a shocking display of state power, police and soldiers, armed to the teeth, descended upon the residence of the former Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs under the Ernest Bai Koroma administration – RTD Major Alfred Palo Conteh, in Wilberforce village.

This unlawful police harassment, carried out without a warrant, has sparked outrage and once again raised serious questions about the abuse of authority and violation of human rights in Sierra Leone today.

The scene was nothing short of terrifying. With heavy weapons in hand, state security forces stormed into the compound, disregarding any semblance of protocol or civility. Their target: the family of Major Alfred Palo Conteh.

Present at the time were his wife, Mrs. Isata Conteh, their children, and a gate man. What followed was a harrowing ordeal as the security personnel, refusing to identify themselves, initiated a relentless search without explanation or justification.

The atmosphere of fear and confusion was palpable as Mrs. Conteh attempted to inquire about the intrusion. However, her inquiries were met with aggression from the unidentified commander, exacerbating the panic, particularly among the children. Without so much as a word, the security forces conducted their search and abruptly departed, leaving behind a traumatized family and a cloud of uncertainty.

What is most alarming about this incident is its recurrence. This marks the third time that Major Conteh’s residence has been subjected to such unwarranted intrusion. Compounding the injustice is the fact that Major Conteh himself has not been in the country since August, raising serious doubts about the motives behind these repeated incursions.

The glaring question on everyone’s mind is: why? Why subject an innocent family to such terror and intimidation? Why persist in conducting searches without legal justification or cause? The lack of answers only serves to deepen the sense of injustice and fuel public outcry.

This egregious violation of privacy and basic human rights must not go unaddressed. It is imperative that those responsible for this flagrant abuse of power be held to account and that measures are taken to ensure that such violations do not occur again in the future.

In a society governed by the rule of law, no one, regardless of their status or affiliation, should be subjected to arbitrary persecution and harassment. The Conteh family deserves justice, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Anything less would be a betrayal of the principles upon which our society is built.

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