By Ishmael Dumbuya
AdvocAid has in a press release dated 27th February 2023 appealed to law enforcement officials to cease all forms of violence meted against women in the country particularly as elections draw close.
According to the presser, the trial of a police officer accused of raping a woman in a police station has commenced and the organization has strongly admonished law enforcers to end violence against women and girls.
The release went on to state that in late 2021, a lady named Baindu, whose name has been changed for security reasons and a single mother to a three-year-old-boy, was arrested and detained in Pujehun Police Station.
While in detention, according to the release,a female police officer was on duty during that fateful day but when she went home only male officers were on duty on the night shift.
The presser further stated that Baindu alleged that she was raped on two occasions by one of the police officers and that the matter was investigated by the Complaint, Discipline and Internal Investigations Department (CDIID) of the Sierra Leone Police and the Family Support Unit (FSU) and the police officer was arrested and suspended while the investigation was ongoing.
“The CDIID disciplinary hearing found that the police officer was found guilty of five counts and various disciplinary actions were recommended, such as dismissal from the police. On June 27th 2022, the police officer was charged with rape and released on bail. AdvocAid later on received information that he was not dismissed of suspended from the police force but continued to work as a police in Bo. The court hearing commenced at the Pujehun High Court on 7th November 2022 but the police officer did not attend court and a bench warrant was ordered. He was later arrested and remained in detention in Bo Correctional Facility,” the release states.
The release also highlighted that Baindu was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for manslaughter and currently in Freetown Female Correctional Center. AdvocAid therefore emphasized that they were concerned about her lengthy sentence given she did not have any legal representation at trial.
AdvocAid climaxed by commending the Sierra Leone Police, the CDIID, and the Director of Public Prosecutions for their prompt action.
“This is one of the first cases where a police officer accused of sexual violence against a detainee has been charged to court. AdvocAid will be monitoring the trial and believes this is an important step forward in accountability for human rights violations by law enforcement officials.”
AdvocAid in the release called for Baindu to receive medical and mental health support following the trauma she endured as she continues to suffer from pain and depression.
“We are concerned about the violations of Baindu’s rights, especially her lack of legal representation at trial. We call on the president to exercise his prerogative of mercy and to pardon her.” The release ended.
AdvocAid works with girls and women caught up in Sierra Leone’s often unjust legal system providing access to justice, education and advocacy.