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Ebola survivors back CARL’s ECOWAS litigation

December 22, 2017 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

In the wake of a legal action filed in the ECOWAS Court of Justice against the government of Sierra Leone by Center for Accountability and Rule of law (CARL) and two Ebola survivors, National Executive of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES) has given green light for the right group to go ahead with the litigation.

According to a release issued yesterday (21 December) by SLAES, the decision to support CARL was unanimously agreed upon by all Ebola survivors across Sierra Leone.

The release said the decision to support CARL was not influenced by any individual, political party, or organisation.

“It is of utmost importance to us that the public understand that SLAES is not in any way an ally of any political party or persons as it was formed to advocate for, and cater for the wellbeing of EVDS [Ebola Virus Disease Survivors] and affected vulnerable populations in Sierra Leone,” the release stated.

The Association further stated that it took into cognisance vulnerable survivors, orphans, widows and youth who are seriously suffering in silence, roaming the streets in search of livelihoods, noting that some are raving mad, while others are dying as a result of lack of healthcare as funds allocated for their support are misappropriated by the very people who are supposed to provide care for them.

It could be recalled that on 18 December, two Ebola Survivors and CARL lodged a legal suit at the ECOWAS Community Court against the government of Sierra Leone seeking reliefs for violation of citizens’ rights to life and health as a result of the mismanagement of funds meant to respond to the epidemic which claimed the lives of thousands and left many more with indelible health challenges.

The organisation’s executive director, Ibrahim Tommy said: “In the last three years, Sierra Leoneans have repeatedly demanded accountability and justice for the mismanagement of Ebola response funds, but their demands have fallen on deaf ears. This is an effort mainly by victims to hold the State to account as well as help them get a sense of closure.”

Tommy, who is also a lawyer, told journalists that the 15 page application filed in the court claim that: “The government violated its citizens right to life by failing to adhere to relevant accounting and procurement controls which led to the loss of one-third of the available resources, and was responsible for a greater number of deaths from Ebola than would otherwise have occurred.”

He added that the government violated citizens’ right to health by failing to dedicate maximum available resources to Ebola response, adding that the former’s stewardship of Ebola funds diminished the human and physical resources needed to handle the Ebola outbreak.

“The government has failed to conduct an effective investigation into the violations of the right to life and the right to health caused by mismanagement of the Ebola funds,” he said, adding that such investigations are essential to enhance accountability and prevent future violations.

In May 2014 the country experienced a deadly outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease which recorded a total of 14,124 confirmed cases and 3,956 deaths. Many of the deaths included healthcare workers – doctors and nurses – including Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, a leading Ebola specialist.