Political Parties Registration Commission
O.A.U Drive, Tower Hill, Freetown
9th August 2010
The Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) notes with concern that some newspapers have published articles, banner headlines, columns, or opinions with a strong ethnic undertone that has the potential to provoke, incite hatred, or discord among political party leaders, supporters, or ethnic groups in Sierra Leone.
The Torchlight News Paper: Vol. 2 No. 236 of Wednesday 4th August 2010 published a banner headline titled: "They are all Mendes". This ascribed the Sierra Leone Peoples Party to one ethnic group and the content was ethnically charged. Furthermore, the article misrepresented the causes of Sierra Leone’s brutal war quite contrary to the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation TRC report.
Similarly, The Unity News paper Vol. 3 No. 11 of Friday August 6 2010 published a banner headline titled: "Limba/Loko Gov’t Eliminates Temnes." This article clearly is provocative in the least and can undermine inter-party unity. These ethnically charged publications are inciting and may provoke inter and intra-party violence or crimes.
The PPRC wishes to remind Sierra Leoneans including political party leaders and their supporters, Journalists, the security forces, and many more that Sierra Leone is a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the government of Sierra Leone is under positive obligation to observe and protect the provisions of the Rome Statute. The PPRC therefore recalls that Article 7 (h) of the Rome Statute considers crimes against humanity to include:
"Persecution against any identifiable group or collective on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender…or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the court."
In line with Article 7 (h) above, the PPRC wish it to be known that any person or group of persons who incites, initiates or is a party to the commitment of the above crimes, and if proven beyond doubt, commits a serious "human rights" violation and a contravention of the Rome Statute and shall be held accountable.
PPRC therefore recalls that Section 32 (1) of the Public Order Act of 1965 provides that "Any person who publishes any false statement, rumor or report which is likely to cause fear or alarm, to the public or to disturb the public peace shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine… or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months, or to both fine and imprisonment."
In addition, Section 13 (b) of The Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution states that "Every citizen shall cultivate a sense of nationalism and patriotism so that loyalty to the state shall override sectional, ethnic, tribal or other loyalties."
Furthermore, the PPRC calls on the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), Independent Media Commission (IMC) and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) to warn media practitioners to refrain from publishing articles or broadcast that are inciting and may lead to "human rights" violations, hatred or public disorder.
PPRC therefore urges with restraint all political party leaders and their supporters to refrain from provocative news print or order in order to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Sierra Leone.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.