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Right groups demand prosecution of electoral violence culprits

July 6, 2018

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

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(r-l) HURIDAC’s Executive Director Ayodele Ameen flanked by Commissioner Brima Sheriff

The Human Rights Advancement and Development Centre (HURIDAC) and Human Rights Defenders Network (HRDN) Sierra Leone have called on the ruling Government to prosecute all electoral violence culprits as a deterrent to other perpetrators.

They made the above request yesterday at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, during the launch of their Human Rights Audit of Sierra Leone 2018 General elections.

“There should be zero tolerance for electoral violence. The security forces should ensure every case of electoral violence is investigated and if evidence is found, prosecuted so as to addressing impunity which is the only panacea to electoral violence,” the report states.

The report looks at the human rights examination of 2018 general elections, explores elections management in the country and provides insight into legal framework and international standards which further adds the challenge of managing the 2018 elections and hurdles facing the National Electoral Commission.

Presenting the report, Executive Director, HURIDAC, Ayodele Ameen, said the report is divided into eleven (11) chapters which captures issues of elections and human rights, elections management, the police, social media and the elections, judiciary among other areas including over twelve recommendations.

“We need to put a stop on political violence,” he said, adding that people shouldn’t be dying or been stabbed because they belong to a political party.

He said the methodology used in the report was multi-faceted, starting with desk research, field work, a questionnaire to political parties, interview with victims as well as other stakeholders. He added that the desk research relied on previous work done on the relevant concepts and the country as it relates to election.

The HURIDAC Director said institutions like NEC should be strengthened and supported on their constitutional responsibilities.

He said, “Under the constitutional provision, NEC is an independent body which should be allowed to carry out their mandates unhindered. Government should ensure that resources for electoral processes should be provided on a timely manner.” Ameen further noted that NEC officials should not be subjected to unnecessary harassment and intimidations by state actors.

According to him, some of their recommendations on the police and the judiciary should not be influenced to alter the electoral process. He averred that they should be trained on human rights roles for their electoral process.

He went on to state that the police and judiciary should have the free hand to carry out their constitutional duties without obstruction.

He said, “The perception that the police and the judiciary were partisan  harms the electoral process.”

The HURIDAC boss stressed that the police needs to adopt                                      core and functional electoral principles that guide their operations during the electoral process.

He recommended that the police should establish a department for election management that works round the clock.

He however, urged the government to investigate perpetrators of violence and injustice during electioneering.

Officially launching the report, the former Commissioner of Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, Brima Sheriff commended the human rights defenders and encouraged them to continue their work in protecting human rights across the country.