From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Feb 16, 2010, 17:16

Press Release – 12th February, 2010

Alleged assault by Presidential Guard against workers of the Bo-Kenema Power Station in Kenema City on 7th February, 2010

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has received reports alleging that on the evening of 7th February 2010 personal security officers attached to President Ernest Bai Koroma perpetrated serious assaults on employees of the Bo-Kenema-Power Station who were carrying out their lawful duties at the power station premises. The HRCSL is currently investigating the details of the incident but notes that this is not the first time that such allegations of physical abuse of members of the public are being made against the particular presidential security officers in question.

HRCSL has also noted that as a result of the alleged incident there has been considerable public disquiet expressed and a noticeable rise in tension especially in Kenema deteriorating in the relationship between the law enforcement security officers and the public.

HRCSL recalls that Section 15 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone provides that "Every person in Sierra Leone is entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, has the right… to each and all of the following…life, liberty, security of person, the enjoyment of property and protection of law."

In addition, Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights to which the Government of Sierra Leone is a party states that "Human Rights are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person." Unprovoked physical attacks on unarmed civilian workers by state security personnel are never justified and amount to violation of human rights which must not be permitted to go unchecked.

HRCSL is aware that continuing impunity of state operatives and officials is a growing concern not only to the HRCSL but also nationwide because it undermines peace and stability in our communities and deprives ordinary law abiding citizens of their enjoyment of human rights and the rule of law.

The Commission therefore calls on the Sierra Leone Police to conduct and complete an impartial investigation into the matter as quickly as possible and to take immediate steps to charge every person found wanting to court with the most serious offences that can be justified by the evidence. The Sierra Leone Police should also ensure that potential witnesses and their families are given full protection and safeguarded from any possible interference by third parties who might wish to pervert the course of justice.

HHRCSL calls on the Government officials at all levels to avoid any action or utterance that could be seen as an attempt to protect wrongdoers or interfere with the due process of the legal system.

Finally, HRCSL urges restraint by the public (particularly those directly affected, the media and human rights activists) and advises that we all allow the Sierra Leone Police to investigate, take necessary action and report to the public on a matter of great public interest and concern.

Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone is an independent institution established by an Act of Parliament (Act No. 9 of 2004) with the mandate to promote & protect human rights in Sierra Leone

Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone,
38 Wellington Street, Freetown
1 Old Railway line, Bo
69 Blama Road, Kenema
30 Wallace Johnson Street, Makeni

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.