From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Police Beat Journalists in Court
By Aruna Turay
May 6, 2010, 16:57

Even as the president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Mr. Umaru Fofana in his recent speech to mark World’s Press Freedom Day entreated on the general public, not least the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) to respect journalists in the discharge of their duties, personnel of the SLP have become even more unbridled in attacking and molesting colleagues. A glaring and recent one was perpetrated on Wednesday 5th instant on the precincts of the Law Courts in Freetown when two reporters, Abibatu Kamara of Awoko newspaper and Ibrahim Samura of the New Age newspaper and Jerry Tryson of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation (SLBC) were brutalized by personnel of the Operations Support Division (OSD) attached to courts.

Like many other journalists that thronged the Law Courts Building on that day hungry for news in the ongoing ACC proceedings against the former Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Haja Afsatu Olayinka Kabba, the only crime of the three latest victims of police brutality was to have been among colleagues to cover the court sitting.

The ugly episode started when Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) S.B. Kargbo was busy addressing members of the Fourth Estate and a large crowd of Haja Afsatu Kabba’s supporters at the entrance of the Court premises on the need to be cautious and law abiding. It was within that moment that two police officers identified as Inspector Yanka and Police Constable Banya decided to molest the reporters.

Abibatu Kamara was brutally attacked by PC Banya when she attempted to enter the court yard after the AIG’s admonition. The ruthless police officer rushed on Abibatu and snatched her camera away simultaneously as Inspector Yanka was enthused in brutalizing the SLBC reporter. In the full view of colleagues, Abibatu’s blouse was held to ripple by Banya, nearly exposing her nakedness. In her attempt to free her of Banya’ grip, the lady’s manicures warded off, leaving her in pains and shame. The poor lady was only released from Banya with the intervention of AIG Kargbo. An SLBC reporter was mercilessly beaten by Inspector Yanka to the extent of tearing his shirt, in the process losing valuable items also.

The fracas left the reporters with serious injuries, in addition to loss of properties running into millions of leones.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.