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Sierra Leone Peoples Party Position Statement on the Justice Bankole Thompson Commission of Enquiry & the Subsequent Government White Paper
Oct 7, 2009, 17:24
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SLPP Position Statement on the Justice Bankole Thompson Commission of Enquiry & the Subsequent Government White Paper

You will recall that on the 16thMay 2009, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party Headquarters was attacked by supporters of the All Peoples Congress and a number of our women were physically assaulted and raped.

As a consequence of this and our reservations about the neutrality of the Police to investigate the incident, and in the interest of the peace communiqu signed by both the opposition SLPP and the ruling APC, both parties agreed on the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the issue and bring the perpetrators to book. It was in this regard that the Justice Bankole Thompson Commission of Enquiry was established with the following specific Terms of Reference:

(1)     To investigate allegations of Rape and Sexual Abuse against women which occurred at the Headquarters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) on 16th March 2009

(11)  To identify the persons involved in the substance of the allegations and to determine whether any breach of law occurred.

(111) to recommend the action to be taken against persons who committed any breach of law.

After carefully studying the report and the white paper, we are utterly disappointed and aggrieved that very substantial issues as identified by the Commission itself have largely been swept under the carpet on grounds of legal technicalities. Specifically, we wish to bring to the attention of the government, the international community, Civil Society organisations, Womens Rights Groups and the press the following observations on the rape report and its accompanying white paper:

That in spite of the commissions findings that the said victims were each subjected to physical mistreatment amounting to outrages upon their personal dignity or other inhumane conduct in violation of their human rights, the Commission deliberately shied away from naming and shaming the perpetrators of this dastardly crime against our womenfolk let alone prescribe punishment for the egregious violations of their human rights as outlined in their mandate (s) 2 and 3 above.

That though the Doctors medical evidence states that the findings were inconclusive because of the lack of laboratory facilities to conduct relevant forensic tests in this type of cases, yet the commissions position of No Rape was determined by a second dimension of the Docto
rs on which they (the Doctors) were quite emphatic that their medical findings (especially those relating to the genital examination) were definitively not consistent with the complaint of rape or sexual abuse. We are therefore left with this question of what conclusive tests did these Doctors conduct to arrive at their verdict of NO RAPE?

Again even though the victims mentioned the names of the perpetrators and the nature of the offences committed , yet the Judge Thompson commission report did not only fail to mention these two things but also completely failed to prescribe any punitive measures in respect of the same two things as mandated in the commissions specific terms of reference.

That though Sorie Brima Kargbo, Chief Superintendent of police who testified as CW 18 had earlier lied to the commission on oath in a testimony relating to whether Idrissa Hamid Kamara had  a pistol on him on that fateful day at the scene of crime , yet the commission still considered and accepted as totally credible the evidence of CW 18. Sadly enough, this formed the basis of the Commissions exoneration of Idriss Hamid Kamara- CW 16.

About the presence of Idriss Hamid Kamara alias Leather Boot at the head of a group of other security personnel, at the scene of crime when specifically assigned to the President as Close Protection Officers, the Western Regional Commander, had earlier informed the nation in an interview on FM 103 that Idrissa Hamid Kamara had no business being at the SLPP Headquarters since he was neither assigned nor deployed there. 

The party is further concerned that the commissions report only threw the responsibility of investigating the matter back to the police who themselves were part of the problem as mentioned earlier. We consider this action as a deliberate attempt to pull wool over our eyes and protect sacred cows in spite of the Presidents avowed public declarations that that ther,ke will be no sacred cows in my government. My ministers, my family and no one will be given preferential treatment. Everyone must face the law

As a party, we are stunned that this denial of justice to our womenfolk is happening at a time when the United Nations Secretary General; Ban Ki Moon has just told world leaders that they can no longer afford to turn a blind eye at such egregious acts of human rights violations. The prevention of sexual violence against women must be a top priority. Let us agree: these acts are an abomination. Leaders of every nation are personally accountable when such crimes are committed within their borders. When women die in childbirth, when they are raped as a weapon of war and have nowhere to turn, we of the United Nations cannot look the other way. And that is why, just recently, you agreed to create a single agency to address womens issues. We have never been more empowered to empower women

In the spirit of Mr. Moons clarion call, we wish to use todays opportunity to call on government, the international community, civil society  organisations, Rights Groups, and the media to join us to ensure justice for those unfortunate women who in the words of the commission suffered physical mistreatment amounting to outrages upon their personal dignity or other inhumane conduct in violation of their human rights protection        

Remember, this is a major violation of the rights of these women and we call on you all to join us to secure justice for them as injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

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

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