June 7, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
As Sierra Leone prepares for Presidential, Parliamentary and local elections in March 2018, Campaign for Human and Development International (CHRDI), has urged government to condemn publicly any attack or threat of violence against members of opposition parties or civil society activists and ensure that no further harm comes to them.
The statement from CHARDI comes in the wake of the arrest of the leader and chairman of the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray, for allegedly being in possession of stun gun without license, as well as the ongoing case against the Membership Director of the National Progressive Democrats (NDP), Jesmed Foday Sum, in the magistrate court for alleged seditious and incitement.
The organization Chief Executive, Abdul Fatoma, expressed concern over a pattern of ‘harassment’ and ‘attacks’ against members of opposition political parties in the country and reminded government of its international obligations and commitment to protecting and promoting the human rights and fundamental freedom of all, regardless of political affiliations or personal views.
He reiterated its call on the government to foster an environment in which dissent is tolerated with those expressing dissenting views protected in keeping with the rights enshrined in the nation’s constitution.
“We must emphasise that while political turmoil often puts pressure on human rights, continued free and open debate amongst citizens and civil society is the core means by which democratic societies are able to navigate such tensions peacefully. The arrest of opposition leader(s)/member(s) and Human Rights defender(s) should be made a thing of the past,” he said.
He claimed that the current actions of the government can’t be seen in isolation, but rather as part of the larger conspiracy to divert attention and seek political dividends in the forthcoming elections, thus criminalising political dissenters.
Mr. Fatoma reminded politicians, who have the tendency to terrorize or disrespect human rights, rule of law and democracy to bear in mind that their deliberate decisions not to support the values of democratic tenets, which Sierra Leone subscribes to would drag the country backwards.
“The authorities must take action to rein in the Police in the run up to the elections and ensure that their actions conform to both national and international standards. It is high time the government of Sierra Leone took measures to instill confidence in the rule of law and not engage in political vendetta for narrow political gains,” he stated.