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NEWS : Politics  

Sierra Leone: "APC Police" in Hot, Hot Waters
May 1, 2009, 16:00
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Many of the victims of the violence that occurred inside the Opposition Headquarters in the capital city on March 16th 2009, have told researchers that policemen who were around scolded them that their SLPP Party did not know how to handle power which was why they lost Governance in 2007 whereas, the police officers told the victims that the APC Government now had what they termed as "APC Police". These so-called "APC Police", in contrast to those patriotic, nationalistic, well-disciplined police officers, see themselves as being immune from prosecution for acts of indiscipline and crimes they may commit.

Such statements have gotten members of Sierra Leones civil society casting their minds back to a time long since past and which the citizens had been hoping they would never have to live through; the days when the police was highly politicised to the extent that they could be termed as "APC Police".

Chapter 3 of Volume 3a of Sierra Leones Truth & Reconciliation Commissions Report covers the Military and Political History of the brutal civil conflict that engulfed Sierra Leone for over ten years. In Paragraph 260 of that chapter, the current IG Brima Acha Kamara, had clearly indicted the politicising of the armed forces by former APC Presidents as being responsible for a good chunk of the bitterness in the country that led to the eruption of the civil war.

Under a heading of "The Legacy of Political Preference for Paramilitary Forces", the TRC Report states as follows: It is worth pointing out that the Special Security Division (SSD), effectively the paramilitary wing of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) force, had prospered in almost inverse proportion to the conventional military. The preference given to the SSD, formerly the Internal Security Unit or ISU, was attributable to the personal insecurities of Siaka Stevens, as the Commission heard from the incumbent Inspector-General of the Sierra Leone Police, Brima Acha Kamara.

The TRC Report then goes on to quote IG Brima Acha Kamara as having uttered a very damning indictment of the Siaka Stevens led APC Government.

"Once Siaka Stevens became Prime Minister in 1967 and the plans to unseat him failed, he began to rely more on the police than the military to protect him in undertaking his functions. A paramilitary wing was formed inside the police and gradually it became an instrument of tyranny and suppression. This was the start of the drift from [the polices] traditional peace-keeping constitutional role to that of a fighting force and its subsequent failure to protect the people" Acha Kamara told the TRC.

Such candid utterances by the IG during the Kabbah-led SLPP Government were taken into consideration when the SLPP not only completely de-politicised the police force but proceeded to implement measures like the current F.U.K. Daboh headed CDIID to ensure abuse of State Powers would not go unchecked. However, in the 18 months since this current Koroma-led APC Government took over from the SLPP, there have been clear signs that the police force is lapsing back to the exact state of affairs that Acha Kamara had condemned as being responsible for the bitterness caused by Pa Siaka Stevens which contributed to an outbreak of war.

For example, it was unbelievable to many observers last month to read F.U.K. Daboh write and tell a complainant of police brutality (SLPP Chairman) that he could not divulge the status of investigation into the brutalised complainants report against serving police officers unless he got permission first from the Inspector General of Police.

The importance of de-politicising the Police has led to the United Nations in New York expressing an intention to send a team of highly capable and disciplined personnel skilled in the art of police discipline, to assist the Independent Review. Awareness Times has been most reliably informed that the aforesaid letter by F.U.K. Daboh to the SLPP Chairman John Benjamin will be tendered to the upcoming UN-backed Review as evidence of police complicity in suppressing expected disciplinary proceedings as laid down by the CDIIDs Procedural Code.

All indications are that if the proposed Rape Commission of Inquiry and Violence Review go as planned and President Koroma musters the fortitude to follow the high road taken by former President Kabbah, then indications are ripe that those members of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) who see themselves as "APC Police" will soon be in hot waters. Sources close to State House yesterday Thursday 30th April 2009, informed the Awareness Times newspaper that the proposed Commission of Inquiry into allegations of rape and sexual abuse against women at the Headquarters of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), will not only be mandated to look into the alleged rapes but will critically investigate and unearthed the role played by security agencies.

Reports have it that a meeting between the opposition and ruling party was yesterday summoned at State House under the chairmanship of H.E. Dr. Koroma, to discuss the "Terms of Reference for the Independent Review into the incidents of political violence and intolerance that occurred in Gendema, Freetown and Kenema in March 2009" as well as the draft document on the "Commission of Inquiry into the alleged rape and sexual abuse incidences" that were said to have occurred during the March 16, 2009 attack on the SLPP.

According to reliable sources, the Commission of Inquiry will have as it mandate "to examine the response of the security agencies to the incident and make the appropriate recommendations", among others. Our sources went on to indicate that the Proposed Independent Review Committee will have to review and determine the circumstances, establish the facts and or make necessary findings on the incidents of political violence and intolerance that occurred recently, especially with regards the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement authorities.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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