Why the wall of silence on human rights abuses and injustice in Sierra Leone?

Yankuba Kai-Samba: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2021:

There is a worrying wall of silence in Sierra Leone in the face of massive corruption and human rights violations under the SLPP Paopa administration.

The subdued people in Sierra Leone are primarily concerned about where their next meal will come from because they have been conditioned to believe that government has control over their lives.

Government is only in Freetown and even here few intelligentsias can afford to impartially analyse what the government is up to regarding the mismanagement of the economy and poor governance.  Majority of our people do not really understand the role of government in their lives and its responsibilities to the society.

Many rely on the diasporas to be fighting for them. I know this because I receive calls of appreciation and encouragements from people in Sierra Leone.

Britain is taking note, no doubt about that, but the people inside Sierra Leone must show solidarity with their fellow citizens whose human rights are being violated. And they must hold the government to account for financial mismanagement.

Our institutions, which can put fear in the government are weak, compromised or partisan.

Take the case of the opposition politician – Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray, who remains in incarceration now going to a year without  a trial or bail. Mr. Mansaray is an opposition leader and an outspoken critic of the government.

Take the recent ridiculous arrest and four months imprisonment of Maada Salia in Kenema for ” insulting president Bio and his wife”. I challenge the judge or magistrate who sent this young man to such a lengthy sentence to cite any law in Sierra Leone that justified his imprisonment, notwithstanding the fact Maada Salia did not use any insults but only exercised his fundamental right to freedom of speech. Maada Salia should never have been arrested or charged in the first place.

Take the murder of over 40 inmates at the central prison in Pademba road, Freetown.

Take the murder of stone throwing youths in Makeni by the government security forces, which the US country report described as government violation of human rights.

Take the murder of youths in Tombo, outskirt of Freetown, after youths rioted over fishing boats.

Take the young innocent youth shot and crippled outside the gated house of the deputy interior minister.

Take the brutal murder of the only son of a woman in Kailahun by Paopa SLPP supporters.

No one has been held to account nor are the relevant institutions or organisations in the country seeking justice for the victims, leading observers to believe that Sierra Leone is a failed state.

There is no opposition leader or party to lead a peaceful street  protest against what is an extremely dangerous creeping dictatorship and oppressive tactics in peace time Sierra Leone.

You do not defeat the incumbent in an election, cunning and deceitful as they are, by allowing them to dominate the political space for too long without an appropriate and proportionate response.

There are dozens of these instances but there is a distinct and disturbing acquiescence or silence against the excesses of this Paopa administration.

In Liberia, even school kids have taken to the street to protest about the condition of their schools and teachers’ salary.

There are no critical masses in Sierra Leone.  They remain quiet, either in fear of losing their jobs or hope one day, they will get an appointment.

The Paopa government’s mass sacking of people from their jobs within days of coming to power was a deliberate strategy to intimidate the workers. It has caused deep insecurity and fear in the minds of public sector workers, leading them to tow the Paopa line, even though they don’t want to be there.

These are factors of inhibition, that will undermine democracy and development.

About the author

Yankuba Kai-Samba, former SLPP UK secretary general, writes from Chelmsford, UK.

5 Comments

  1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of Human rights; It is an umbrella of Hope for billions of people across the globe that totally resemble frail,fragile sheep that have been left under the care and watchful gaze of ruthless,unforgiving wolves like Maada Bio of Sierra Leone. Let us now listen to what Article 1 says: “All Human Beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights; They are all endowed with reason and good conscience; And should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood; “Folks, can someone very close to the President try and explain the intrinsic meanings of those timeless words to him?

    This President is an anarchist that promotes Tribalism discreetly behind the scenes – He doesn’t believe in the spirit of brotherhood or the lofty idea that all people regardless of their tribal and religious beliefs,race,or political and social affiliations are born free and equal in dignity and rights that’s why he slaughtered 40 unarmed inmates like chickens in the Pademba road Prison riots, According to the inept President and his naive supporters – Those prisoners were not human beings but cruel animals,wicked monsters that deserved to die; He butchered fellow citizens and never apologised to their grieving families or showed any remorse whatsoever; But then again why should he? He never believed that those unarmed prisoners were human beings with inalienable rights in the first place.

    Since this President assumed the reins of Power he has been on a killing spree – Makeni, Freetown, Pujehun – slaughtering the innocent, unarmed, and weak with the aid of his Gestapos and the military. And it didn’t end there his insatiable appetite for human blood wouldn’t let him rest, relax or feel at ease so he just kept on killing, impulsively killing like a prowling hyena, like an emotionally distraught werewolf hunting down petrified human beings and frantic animals fleeing in confusion from a wild raging roaring wildfire; My tiny country is now under the tight grips of authoritarian rule – Quiet whisperers can now be seen everywhere in Sierra Leone scared to death of uttering a word of protest against the criminal SLPP Cabal….scared out of their wits to even attempt to sneeze or clear their throats and cough lightly in the presence of the Old soldier in State House. (lol)

  2. This administration has been quite a disappointment to Sierra Leoneans throughout the country & diaspora. They campaigned on transparency and justice for all. However, it has been linked to massive corruption, poverty & human rights violation. Who is minding the masses? Where are the human rights groups that should be standing up for marginalized people? Where is justice & equal treatment for all?? No matter what happens over the reminder of administration, there should be consequences for these atrocities going on in the country. There should be repercussions for human rights violations. What a disgrace for this administration. I only hope & pray that people will vote with their heads and not emotions next elections.

  3. It is so sad and unfortunate that when a politician losses his or her grip on power and connections, that person converts to jourbalism and write incorrect stories. The issues stated above are not news items but the opinion of the writer. When the APC party lost power, they resorted to inciting lawless and undetermined youths to cause mayhem in the country. They adopted terrorist like approach and consistently attacked and burnt or damaged facilities like community health center, like it happened in Tombo, Makeni.

    The unfortunate situation that happened on 29 April 2020 at the central maximum correction center has been used as a propaganda tool to make political gains. It was obvious that the APC thought that President Bio was going to kill Paolo Conteh. The attempted prison break was meant to escape with Paolo Conteh who was under trial for treason offences. It will be better that we stop this senseless hate and come together to build this nation.

  4. The lawlessness in Sierra Leone is becoming so endemic for any government to treat with kids’ gloves. It has to be stamped out at all costs before the country degenerates into further anarchy.

  5. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Having said that, we can’t shy away from pointing out the indifference shown by the international community, when those unfortunate prisoners at Pademba Road prison, that were supposedly being looked after by our government, whilst serving time, were massacred by the trigger happy Sierra Leone police back at the start of 2020. Unfortunately, since that ill fated day, we’ve witnessed more state sanctioned killings in Makeni, Hastings, pujehun with no police officer held to acount or brought to face justice. Because, they were wearing a police uniform at the time they committed the crime. Which for all intent and purpose absolve them from taking responsibility for the crimes they committed against ordinary citizens of Sierra Leone. Yes the three police officers that murdered Mr Kargbor at Hastings were arrested.

    Not a single condemnation from the diplomatic community whose countries’ aid money makes up half our countr’ys budgetary needs. Put your mouth where your money is. Even our own religious leaders of both faiths the Christians and Muslims communities failed to come out and condemn those massacres that took place under their watch. At the time, Bio’s refusal to come out and condemn the killing of those unarmed prisoners by his security force, for which by law Bio’s government was supposed to protect their lives, speaks of not only of things gone wrong in our country but of the way we perceive the justice system should work for all regardless of status or wealth. The least Bio could have done was order a judge led inquiry to these killings, so such incidents are never repeated in our country again.

    The president can fly in Nigerian judge to carry out a public inquiry into corruption allegations against his erstwhile political opponents when it suits his agenda, but when it comes to the killing of innocent people by his security force, the families of the victims are left to pick up the pieces. We need a judge led inquiry into the Pademba Road prison deaths. So we can bring those responsible to justice.

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