The Sylvia Blyden case – noose tightens on the rights of the individual and due process

Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara Esq: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 May 2020:

Today marks 21 days since the arrest and detention of Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, without any charges being preferred to the courts against her person.

The Constitution of Sierra Leone, is very clear on the protection of arbitrary arrests and detention of persons suspected to have committed an offence.

This provision is clearly spelt out under Section 17 (3) (a) which states “Any person who is arrested and detained for the purpose of bringing that person before a court or tribunal and who is not released, shall be brought before a court of law within ten days from the date of arrest. ” This goes for capital offences, offences carrying life imprisonment and economic and environmental offences.

On a similar note, the 1991 constitution  makes provision under sub-section 3(b) for the person to be charged to court  within seventy-two hours of his or her arrest in case of other offences.

In any of the aforementioned instances, charges must have been preferred against Dr. Blyden by now, if she has a case to answer.

For the state to continue subjecting her person under detention without charge, is nothing other than a denial of her constitutional rights and due process of law.

It is no legal justification to suggest that, it was common practice during previous regimes. A perpetuation of a wrong doing by an erstwhile regime, does not make it right for the current regime to repeat the same wrong doing.

Impugning the Constitution and due legal process, brings me to asking the question, when does justice come in, to bridge the impunity gap?

It is time as a country for us to lift our heads up and accept the rule of law, as the hall mark of our hard won democracy.

Dr. Blyden, like any other citizen, is entitled to exercise her freedom and individual rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

Applying the law discriminately against her by way of  denying her  police bail, as well as timely preferment of charges as provided by law, runs contrary to public law and policy.

The point I am making here is not about what Dr. Blyden, may or may not have done, but rather the implementation and enforcement of the rights of the individual.

By deliberately ignoring or disregarding her rights as enshrined in the constitution, endangers the peace and security of the State.

I am therefore calling on the Sierra Leone Police to speedily conclude the investigation and, if there are any, the preferment of charges to the courts.

8 Comments

  1. Mr. JFK, you are one of those who are not straightforward to the Republic of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans. It is all about your interest. You served as ACC commissioner and you never saw this gross of criminal and corruption against us. You also served as AG, and it was during your time they sacked the constitutionally elected vice president and in 2018 you went in to contest for flag bearer.

    In 2019, you were defending the corrupt politicians. Are you really honest to us. If sylvia is in prison for crimes against the state. Let her wait. We are spoiling this small country and we don’t know where the politicians are investing the corrupt monies because none of them has a single company that is capable of employing 100 youths

    • What an appalling and misleading comment there by Mr. Fallah Bockarie. Read this outrageous statement by Mr. Fallah Bockarie – “If sylvia is in prison for crimes against the state. Let her wait”. Are you sure that Dr. Sylvia Blyden has been charged and imprisoned for crimes against the state Mr. Fallah Bockarie? Please make sure your comments are not misleading each time you post anything on this glorious platform Mr. Fallah Bockarie.

      Does Mr. Fallah Bockarie want to tell me that finding the portrait of the most responsible former Commander in Chief of Sierra Leone Armed Forces ever, in the house of Dr. Sylvia Blyden is a crime? Please reply to my question as quickly as you possibly can Mr. Fallah Bockarie. Bear in mind that this glorious platform is closely monitored by responsible forumites. Having a break does not matter. God help Mr Fallah Bockarie fact check the next time and God bless Mr Fallah Bockarie.

  2. The last time I checked, Sierra Leone and most countries around the world are under State of Health Emergency which resulted in the temporary closing of Courthouses around the world .Fortunately President Bio who is the Commander In Chief and Fountain Of Honor has asked the Chief Justice to reopen the Courts for some of these alleged criminals so that they can have their days in court.

    Aside from that, late President Kabba with collaboration with the United Nations and British government painfully restructured our corrupt police force that was destroyed under the 25 years of APC misrule by rebranding that institution as a “Force For Good,” which was under the leadership of a former British Police Officer, which was once again corrupted during the past 11 years of the APC misrule. Bad precedent has already been set which will take years to reverse under this current SLPP leadership.

    Finally I hope and pray that our current Anti Corruption Commissioner will desist from following the bad precedence of his predecessors that encouraged corruption during the past 11 years of the APC misrule but defended their lifetime leader and cohorts during the just concluded Commission Of Inquiry.

  3. Mr. Kamara, Interesting article with some valid arguments. But what you omitted is the fact that Sierra Leone is currently under a state of emergency. As a lawyer, you do not have to be told that a government can impose policies under a state of emergency that it would otherwise not impose had there not been a state of emergency. Moreover, a state of emergency empowers a government to suspend rights and freedoms guaranteed by a country’s constitution.

    It is also instructive that the tenets of international law make it clear that under a state of emergency, persons can be detained and held without trial. Does the government of Sierra Leone have to keep reminding folks that Sierra Leone is currently under a state of emergency?

  4. And they wonder why the International community doesn’t take their shallow-minded,superficial government,lacking in credibility,and intellectual depth seriously? Well I have news for them,these are hard Covid-19 times,new,and progressive times indeed,and no one wants to be closely associated with a fraudulent criminal Cabal,that calls itself a functioning legitimate government.How times have changed – Men once dressed in military boots,and heavily starched khaki uniforms,that took them countless days,and nights,to iron properly,are now wearing expensive designer suits,bought with brazenly stolen public funds,snatched from the scanty coffers belonging to poorest of the poor.

    The whole world is taking notes,quietly observing them,steal,rob,arrest,and kill,recklessly,at random,and at will.Only lawless men,with no regard for the the law,our constitution,and the rights of citizens,are capable of subjecting,and putting innocent,honorable people through the worst,inhumane,despicable kinds of arbitrary arrests,and detention;Only brutal Dictators keep people accused of crimes,wickedly behind bars without giving them access to the law and a fair,and just hearing.

    Its about damn time,people in the diaspora,begin to organize themselves,and peacefully make their voices heard by protesting,the injustices that is going on presently in Sierra Leone.Our embassies in United States,and the United kingdom,must hear our voices,and feel our disgust,frustrations,and anger;Enough is enough with totalitarianism.

  5. The continued detention of Dr Sylvia Blyden without any charges brought against her by the incompetent Sierra Leone Police tells us one thing and one thing only, they don’t have a shred of evidence that she has committed a crime.Somthing tells me they are only holding her for now because they don’t know what to do with her.To their credit they brought it upon themselves.

    I don’t feel sorry for them. Now we see this incompetent police force for what they are. For the interest of justice to be done and seen to be done, the Sierra Leone police after unashamedly inviting a television crew to carry out a search warrant in her home, surely if they had found anything that linked her to the trumpeted crime against the state, they claimed to have existed they should display it to us Sierra Leoneans so we can make our own judgement. Their silence speaks volumes. The fact that they went and ransacked her home like professional burglars in police uniforms and spent four hours in her residence and we the Sierra Leone public left non the wiser tells you everything you want to know about our so-called independent police force. It is the Sierra Leone tax payers paying your salaries not the SLPP government .

    To that end we expect better from you as a law enforcement branch of the state. Religious leaders of both faith Muslims and Christians that like to preach in their own denominations should come and speak out against this gross human rights violations of an individual by the state. So far your silence is deafening. You need to speak up. I’m not comparing this government to the Nazis when they took over power in Germany in the mid 1930s/ There again some of the catholic church leaders of the day failed to condemn the excess of Hitler and his Storm troopers.We all know how that ended. The Sierra Leone police should not be used as a tool of government to suppress dissent.

  6. Succinctly put. Let me reiterate a very important point by quoting the author of this article – “A perpetuation of a wrong doing by an erstwhile regime, does not make it right for the current regime to repeat the same wrong doing.” Two wrongs, they say, cannot make a right. Those in charge now would not be judged by the wrongdoings of any previous regime but by their very own wrongdoings. Let us learn from our mistakes and not keep making the same mistakes and use justifications that the fair mind would always question – to continue as such.

    Sierra Leoneans all are watching, the rest of the world is watching and even posterity would raise questions about what our generation is now facing. Let us not forget that as humans we cannot be superior to time and time itself is a fleeting resource that change cannot avoid. The clock is ticking – slowly but surely time will show it is a just judge that no man can defy.

  7. Well put Mr. J.F.K. Those who claim to be instilling law and order, are by all indications exhibiting lawlesss — flouting the dictates of our constitution.

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