Sierra Leone Police refusal to enforce High Court ruling undermines the rule of law

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 July 2021:

There are hundreds if not thousands of cases that the courts in Sierra Leone have passed judgement on over the years, that are still awaiting enforcement by a police force few in the country have faith in when it comes to upholding justice and the rule of law.

Take the case involving the Carlton-Carew Family of Freetown, who have been battling with landgrabbers and encroachers since 1992 trying to repossess their family land at Thompson Bay – off Carlton-Carew Rd / Wilkinson Road, Freetown, despite court orders granting them possession and instructing the police to enforce those court orders.

Because of police inaction and failure to enforce the court orders, on the 27th January 2017, the residence of Mr Conrad Carlton-Carew was attacked by hoodlums in the area and set on fire. His wife was inside and was afraid to run out of the house until the fire was put out. The security wall was breached, windowpanes shattered and vehicle severely damaged. Yet the police failed to take action.

It was on the basis of such appalling dereliction of duty by the police and their refusal to carry out the orders of the high court, that the former Sheriff / Inspector General of Police – Francis Munu, was found guilty of criminal contempt of the High Court by Justice Alusine Sesay on the 27th of June 2018, and was ordered to comply with the said order within 21 days.

Despite undertaking threat assessments in September 2018 and 15th March 2019, the police have still not proceeded with execution of the judgments of court.

Despite obtaining lawful orders of court in addition to valid execution processes, the leadership of the Sierra Leone Police have refused to carry out the orders of the High court of Sierra Leone. Consequently, this has led to increasing illegal occupation of the property by squatters and land grabbers. More and more people continue to put up makeshift structures on the family land with impunity.

On the 24th of September 2018 Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew wrote to the Minister of Internal Affairs – the supervising ministry of the Sierra Leone Police, about the conduct of the police and to request that the police be instructed to obey the orders of court. Yet no action has been taken.

On 25th October 2018, Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew wrote a letter to the President of Sierra Leone – Julius Maada Bio (Photo), as fountain of honour and justice of the nation, soliciting his intervention in order for the court judgments which have been lawfully obtained to be executed in accordance with the law. Yet no action has been taken.

On 16th December 2020, Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew in desperation, wrote to the Attorney General concerning the shocking response of the Attorney General himself, who instead of instructing the police to enforce the court order, wanted to know from Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew why the past APC Government did not carry out the order of court.

In his letter to the Attorney General, Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew wrote: “I suggested you put the question to the Under-Sheriff.  This did not augur well with you, and you instructed the Under-Sheriff not to carry out the order of court. I was shocked as you had no right to give such an order to the Under-Sheriff to disobey the law. The issue is judicial and not political. Therefore, in the letter, I reiterated my plea to you that the execution be proceeded without hindrance. Despite the many pleas for assistance in respect of the execution of the lawful orders of court, no assistance was rendered.” Yet no action has been taken.

In his letter to President Bio, Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew wrote: “Your Excellency, it would interest you to know that to date this order has still not been carried out. The Chief Justice, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Deputy and the Minister of Internal Affairs have all been informed. “Conspiracy of Silence” Nobody dares to tell the Inspector General of police a public servant that this is a total disrespect and mockery of our Judicial system. This behaviour borders on indiscipline.

“The matter had been in court since 1992 and judgment was given in 2014 in favour of my late aunt Mrs. Onipede Cline-Thomas nee Carlton-Carew. Since 2014 the Sheriff / Inspector General of Police has refused to carry out the lawful order of the High Court of Sierra Leone. The order is for the Sheriff / Inspector General to give possession of all that parcel of land and any structure situate at Thompson Bay off Carlton-Carew Road, Wilkinson Road to the Plaintiff as indicated in the judgment of June 2014.  See the attached documents

“My life and that of my family are being continuously threatened even though a list of over 30 people threatening our lives has been submitted to the police. No action has been taken. It would appear that the Police instead of being pro-active in this matter is waiting for things to happen.  Conspiracy? Conspiracy?

“Your Excellency, as our Fountain of Honour and Justice I am appealing to you to intervene so that our faith in the judicial system and its arm of implementation is restored and also what rightly belongs to us be given to us without any loss of life. Your Excellency as indicated above Sierra Leone can no longer afford for its sincerity regarding the respect of the rule of law, justice and human right to be questioned by its citizens and the international community. I do hope Sir, that you would be gracious enough to look into this matter at your earliest convenience and favour me with a reply.” Yet there has been no action to enforce the court rulings.

Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew also wrote a letter to Vice President Juldeh, who is Chairman of the Police Council, saying: “The above matter has been in court since 1992 and judgment given in favour of Onipede Cline-Thomas nee Carlton-Carew in 2014 Since then the Sheriff/ Inspector General of Police has refused to carry out the lawful order of the High Court of Sierra Leone. The order is for the Sheriff / Inspector General of Police to give possession of all that parcel of land and any structure situate at Thompson Bay off Carlton-Carew Rd. to the Plaintiff as indicated in the judgment of June 2014. See the attached documents.

“As Chairman of the Police Council you are kindly requested to directly intervene and instruct the Sheriff / Inspector General of Police to carry out the legitimate order of the High Court of Sierra Leone. My right to property guaranteed by the 1991 constitution is being violated.” Yet, still no action has been taken to enforce the court orders.

On 1st July 2021, in further desperation for justice, Mr. Conrad Carlton-Carew wrote a letter to the Chief Minister JJ Saffa. This is what he said: “Your meeting with the Police Executive Management Board yesterday has renewed my hope in the Police force. The Inspector General of Police who is also the Sheriff of the High Court has refused to carry out a lawful Court Order of the High Court of Sierra Leone. Attached are the relevant documents relating to the Court Order. Sir you are kindly requested to remind the IGP of this Government’s commitment to respect the rule of law, human rights and ensure justice for all. No sacred cows”. Yet still there has been no action to enforce the court orders.

There are many families of Krio origin in Sierra Leone who have given up all hope of obtaining and receiving justice in the country, and it seems the Carlton-Carew family are reaching the end of that road. Will justice ever be served?

Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Mr. Carlton-Carew said in his final appeal for justice:

“In view of the long years of litigation and the inability of the State to enable our family to enjoy the fruits of our court orders, and the threat to my life and security of my family, I have put the State on notice through the Attorney General that unless reasonable effort or steps are taken to ensure that we the successful party enjoy the fruits of our judgments, steps shall now be initiated to commence a suit against the State of Sierra Leone. It is with huge regret that I contemplate such regional action against my own country. Noting the ordeal narrated above, this has inevitably become my last available resort.

“It is the view of the family and friends that is because we are Krios that is why we are being treated this way.  Government has refused to sanction the Sheriff and Attorney General who instructed the under Sheriff not to carry out a Court Order. Only in Sierra Leone that this action will go unpunished. No justice, rule of law and no human rights.”

No one in Sierra Leone should be made to feel as though they are an outcast by the State. Everyone must be treated equally before the law, without regard to tribe, religion, region of origin or gender. The Sierra Leone Telegraph will continue to follow this story with interest to its final outcome.


  1. When those entrusted with the power to interpret the laws of the land, fail in their duties to do so, they are not only undermining ordinary citizens rights, as this case highlights but it also creates a corrosive precedents in which the aggrieved party feels they are left with no other choice but to take the law in to their own hands.Now I am not advocating for violence, but the government needs to take the land issues around the metropolis of Freetown very seriously. And most importantly with out looking at this problem urgently, it will undermines the set of rules we as a society agreed to live with and obey. No one is above the law. The principle here, our justice system is set up to police and enfoce those rules that we all agreed upon as written in our constitution. The right to security, life and property are fundamental rights that cannot be put on the table for renegotiation.This are rights every individual is ready to defend to death.

    So it is incumbent those that are entrusted to enforce this rights take their job seriously. This are matters of life and death issues. Failure to enforce this rights, will erode the security of communities and by extention the State. The courts orders have to the implemented.This is not someone trying to steal my mobile phone and think they can get away with it. What sort of Country are we living in, where victims have to solicit the support of the president to defend their rights? I hope common sense prevail and the police obey the court order in favour of Mr Carlton-Crew and enforce the rule of law. As long as you are a land owner in the Freetown peninsula, as the city expands, chances are this case is not an isolated incident. There are lot of Mr Carlton – Crews families that might face the same predicaments, in the near future.What happens to Mr Carlton-Crew, will be used by this same hoodlums to threatened other land owners, with the knowledge their illigal actions are sanctions by thr state.

    Today might just be one family, fighting a rearguard attempt to defend what is rightly theirs. Tommorow this criminals that are mobile and working with our corrupt Sierra Leone police force, will move to an other family land and occupy it. In the absence of any police action, and feeling of betrayal by a corrupt justice system, landlords will soon start to look for other alternatives means to defend their turf. All bets are off once we get to that point. The very security of Sierra Leone will be hanging by a shoe string. And it doesn’t take much to snapped it.

  2. It beggars belief why in a vast country like Sierra Leone, people are fighting over Freetown. A tiny portion of the land available. The concept of development seems to be lost on us. The fact that Bo, Kenema or Makeni could be developed as well is a mere illusion to the minds of our people. However, abolishing the death penalty is seen as more important.

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