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Rights group writes IGP over detention of Dr. Sylvia Blyden, others

May 18, 2020

Citizens Advocacy Network (CAN) has called on the Inspector General of Police Ambrose M. Sovula to either release Dr. Sylvia Blyden on bail or charge her to court as the stipulated time of detention has elapsed.

Dr. Sylvia Blyden was nabbed at her Cockle Bay residence by the Sierra Leone Police on Friday 1st May, 2020 with the intention to investigate her for Incitement and Subversion.

In a letter addressed to the IGP, CAN made a blanket called on the SLP to ensure that Dr. Blyden and all citizens arrested be released on bail or charge them to court.

“The Citizens Advocacy Network (hereinafter referred to as CAN) calls on your good offices to ensure that Dr Sylvia Blyden and all other citizens who were arrested by your Force and have extended the stipulated period of detention be charged to court or granted bail pursuant to provisions of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone,” the letter states.

The rights group, however, condemn violence and disorderly conduct in the strongest terms, but noted that the ‘flagrant abrogation of basic human rights of citizens and the slumber gear of processes and procedures of Law do not present the State as one that abides by, or is guided by its law and order serenade’

The group added that the extant provisions of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone safeguard the fundamental human rights of citizens even when they are alleged to have committed a crime, thus noting that the instant case shouldn’t be an exception.

The letter stated that the constitution grants the Police three days (72 hours) to investigate allegations or offences of misdemeanors and charge to court; and/or ten (10) days in investigating capital, economic and environmental offences and do same.

“Section 17 subsection 3 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone, the supreme law of the land states thus: “Any person who is arrested or detained… and who is not released shall be brought before a court of law: a) within ten days from the date of arrest in cases of capital offences carrying life imprisonment and economic and environmental offences. b) within 72 hours of his arrest in case of other offences.” the letter added

The rights group urged the leadership of police to adhere to the supreme laws of the land and charge or grant bail to the many citizens in their custody whose investigation and detention have tipped the required duration stipulated by law.

The letter made allusion to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report which it said had seriously scolded such oversight actions of the police as reasons for fomenting discontent and eroding confidence in such an important institution of State.

“The independence of State institutions helps the deepening of our democracy and boosts citizens trust and confidence in relying on them for dispensing justice, equity and the rule of law. CAN also urges that persons in custody undergoing investigation are treated in a humane manner,” the letter states.

The group alleged that some detainees at the Criminal Investigations Department have been exposed to degrading human treatment and at some occasions even torture.

The group noted that the action of the police is contrary to Section 20 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.

The right base group called on the police to be independently dispensing their duties and respecting laid down constitutional provisions.

“This country needs your show of impartiality now more than ever. Make her proud”.