Over Kabala killings…

HRC calls to embargo SLP peace keeping mission

August 22, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRC-SL) has called on the international community to immediately put on hold recruitment of the country’s police force to serve in international and regional peace-keeping missions until investigations into the killings of three youths in Kabala are completed.

On Tuesday August 16, 2016, youth in Kabala, Koinadugu district, staged a peaceful demonstration over government’s decision to relocate a Youth village that had been promised the district since 2014.

The demonstration graduated into a clash between the youths and the Sierra Leone police and resulted to the deaths of three youths with others severely injured.

In a press release issued on Friday, the commission’s Chairperson, Brima Abdulai Sheriff called for an immediate independent investigation into the above shootings.

He stated that should the SLP be found culpable for shooting unarmed protesters, the government must take steps to remove lethal weapons from the police and equip them with non-lethal weapons for its operations.

According to him, the Sierra Leone Police stands  accused by the public for the above mentioned shootings, and that despite the commission’s recommendations for investigations (in the Kono, Bumbuna  and Guard street), there has been no prosecution of those responsible.

He said the commission was of the view that the government should take full responsibility to address the grievances of the Koinadugu Community and promptly take steps to deal with the root cause(s) that led to the discontentment and protest by the youth in relation to the proposed youth village in the district.

“The Commission calls on the youth, community leaders and the entire public to remain calm and law abiding and cooperate with government and other stakeholders to resolve the incident peacefully. The Commission urges the law enforcement agencies to remain professional and to support peace efforts,” Commissioner Sheriff stated in the release.

He opined that every person has  right to peacefully protest alone or with others and freely express their opinion as guaranteed by the Constitution of Sierra Leone and other international instruments to which Sierra Leone is a party and that democracy, good governance and peace thrive when those rights are exercised without undue hindrance or restrictions.

He urged that the government and law enforcement agencies should develop and publish clear guidelines on protests and demonstrations so that  rights can be enjoyed by all equally.

“Limitations to these rights should only be determined by law and should be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society. HRCSL notes that in recent past, citizens have been denied the right to peacefully protest,” he said.