The endless killing of defenseless people in Sierra Leone is crime against humanity

Sierra Leone telegraph: 24 March 2017

When those elected to run the affairs of state and to manage the complex and sometimes basic needs of society, instead decide to turn their weapons out of anger and frustration at the very people that gave them power, it becomes obvious that they have lost the moral right to govern.

Such is the state of Sierra Leone today – one of the poorest nations in the world, where yesterday and so often in the past, young people protesting at government failings to meet their basic needs, were gunned down in cold blood by those in power.

The line between crimes against humanity and the right of the authorities to take reasonable action to safeguard the lives and properties of communities is clear.

But when those in power push the boundary beyond the protection of lives and property – through the use of deadly force, then this action cannot be deemed to be justifiable, lawful, nor constitutional.

Sierra Leone is at cross-roads once again, as it has been several times in the past. But each time the nation edges towards anarchy and the rampant abuse of power, those in authority must be held responsible for indirectly legitimising the violent reaction of the young and defenceless.

The government must equally be held responsible for radicalising those youths, who today are not only being repressed, but gunned down in cold blood for standing up for the right to be educated.

So often we speak about the causes of the ten year brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, and how the international community has spent more than $10 billion in the last fifteen years to help build a fairer and better society. But has this investment been well spent?

Judging from yesterday’s violence against protesting young students across Sierra Leone, it is obvious that the culture of violence, abuse of state power, impunity, and social and economic marginalisation, which are some of the key root causes of the war, are still strongly perpetuated by those in power today.

The gunning down of innocent citizens by those meant to protect them is an undeclared act of war against the people, and a crime against humanity.

Sierra Leone goes to the polls next year to elect a new government. In any normal democracy this should be cause of celebration and hope of change of the status quo, for a better future.

But in a country where elections are largely decided on tribal lines, electoral fraud, and pre-election cash for votes by the rich, there is little sign in the horizon of the change Sierra Leone needs.

The only guarantee that Sierra Leoneans are hoping for now is that which is provided for and safeguarded under international law – the Human Rights Convention. Those committing crimes against their own people must be brought to justice, even after they have left office.

Sierra Leone is far from being opened for business. Those in authority are still grappling with the simple task of providing the most basic of human needs – security, food, water, healthcare, and education, after 56 years of independence from colonial rule.

After decades of brutalising his own people and committing serious crimes against humanity, the people of Chad have been granted justice against former president Hissene Habre.

“Habré was found guilty of both direct and indirect commissions of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. For indirect guilt, the chamber applied international criminal law jurisprudence that permits guilt to be assigned where a defendant can “foresee” criminal violations arising from his acts,” says Kerstin Carlson – an Assistant Professor in International Law at the American University of Paris.

This must be a lesson to those in power in Sierra Leone today, that, they cannot sleep in the comfort of their erroneous belief that they can continue to kill innocent young people without facing justice – even after they are no longer in power.


  1. Sierra Leone has SO MUCH potential! Its’ children, youth and optimistic and friendly character, not to mention the climate, countryside and natural resources. To see the lack of progress in the infrastructure, society and prospects after so many years of independence is devastating to all concerned.

    Having lived in Sierra Leone just after Independence and remember the delightful country growing with optimism and opportunity, it is indeed a crime that it has destroyed all of that and regressed from the living standards of 50 years ago!!!

    Corruption seems to be at the heart of it. But why cant the leaders see that the better the quality of life of everyone, improves those at the top immeasurably.

    The purpose of a government is to provide SECURITY, LAW AND ORDER and opportunity to the people it serves. Go back to basics and get people with INTEGRITY into positions of authority to lead a more honest and ALTRUISTIC society.

    Killing should never be accepted as an educated way of dealing with a perceived problem. A person of VISION is needed to bring the country out of this perpetual spiral. Where would I start to solve the problems???

    After years of thinking…. I have no idea!

  2. The only way to bring those in power to justice is to vote them out in the next election. As Sierra leoneans we should not give President Koroma and his cohorts the chance to escape justice. The only way to do that is by not being complacent with the electoral process, and to go to the pools and completely change the government.

    As Sierra Leoneans we lack the mental strength to stand up for what is right. We as citizens are deprived of basic things such as education. Education should be a right for our country’s children. I weep for my country, because the lack of education has sent us to the abyss of civilization.

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