Recent spates of violence in Freetown and in Bonthe have sent shock reminders of how lawlessness can lead to a breakdown of law and order.
We have monitored and documented with dismay, the several reported incidences of violence across the country, but we are concerned that just in January 2020 to date four critical incidents of violence have been recorded.
• On Saturday 11th January, 2020 at Motuo village Kpanda –Kemo Chiefdom Bonthe District, a female Paramount Chief’s residence was attacked by a large crowd of men who were members of the Poro Society, they reined insults and threatening remarks against her. The door and windows of the Chief’s house were damaged as a result of the incident.
According to Human Rights Commission for Sierra Leone findings, she spent 7 hours under siege. In the same incident, an elderly woman was gang raped by fifteen unidentified members allegedly of the Poro Society during their initiation ceremony.
• On Tuesday 14th January, 2020 during a funeral procession of a former Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) member, violence erupted along Hannah Benka-Coker Street and Syke Street by the All People’s Congress (APC) party office which resulted to pelting of stones and unrest of citizens along this area. Disturbing image of a man stabbed several times on the head went viral.
• On Sunday 26th January, 2020 there was also a public disorder incident along Wallace Johnson and ECOWAS Streets in Freetown. The incident resulted in several injuries and malicious damage to vehicles and buildings causing public unrest in the vicinities.
• On Saturday 1st February, 2020 there was a confrontation at the residence of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs which led to the shooting of a young man by one of the State Security Officers attached to the Deputy Minister. Footage of this young man on the ground in front of the Deputy Minister’s gate, stained with blood and crying for help went viral.
In light of these incidents and other previous occurrences, we therefore urge the government to examine the root causes of this latest rise in public disorder and violence, with a view to instituting sustainable measures that will prevent recurrence.
We are particularly disturbed by the often high-handed and unprofessional conduct by some personnel of the Sierra Leone Police and we call on the authorities to ensure that the principles of fair policing, Rule of Law and proportionality are adhered to under all circumstances.
CGG is therefore calling on the Sierra Leone Police to step up on its constitutional mandate to protect lives and properties of everyone within the country.
The number of wounded people, the frequency of and regularity in which lethal and non-lethal weapons have been used by some police officers seem to indicate that the use of force has sometimes been excessive and violated the requirements of necessity and proportionality.
While we condemn in the strongest possible terms, violence perpetrated by groups and individuals, we firmly believe that the Government of Sierra Leone has an obligation not only to respect Human Rights but to protect people against violent acts committed by private individuals.
We encourage the authorities to therefore isolate those who resort to violence, while guaranteeing that everyone in the country can enjoy their rights to live in peace, safety and security.
Accountability on this issue is of essence, we therefore call for speedy investigation and prosecution of those found wanton so as to guarantee justice for all victims.
Finally, CGG notes with concern that the repeated acts of violence and vandalism has left Sierra Leoneans in and out of the country in fear and with a mentality of emergency to address the issue.
The Government needs to therefore address certain long-standing grievances and other socio-economic concerns of the populace to ensure confidence of stability and social cohesion.” (END)
Marcella Samba-Sesay +23276984590, Bernadette French +23276622977 and Sahr Kendema