March 28, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
The Sierra Leone Bar Association has called on the government of Sierra Leone to expeditiously set up an impartial and independent inquiry into the incidents of 23rd March, 2017, in some parts of the country, particularly in Bo between students of Njala University and the Sierra Leone Police.
Students of Njala University took to the streets of Freetown and Bo, on 23rd March, 2017, in reaction to the refusal of lecturers to resume lectures.
In a release dated 24th March, 2017, and signed by the Association’s Secretary General, Julian Cole Esq, they noted, with utter regret, the loss of life and injuries to persons during the protest.
“The demonstration staged by students of Njala University was in response to the strike action of the university’s academic staff, a situation which has continued to deprive the students of their learning for about three months now. The Association notes the academic staff’s reason for the strike action as being against the backdrop of unmet promises of better salaries, terminal benefits and other conditions of service,” the release noted.
The Sierra Leone Bar Association, in its press release, reminded all parties to the issue, including the government of Sierra Leone, Njala University, the Academic Staff of Njala University and the Sierra Leone Police of the following, “the state’s obligation to provide the necessary structures, finance and supportive facilities for education pursuant to Section 9 (10 (c) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991 and “the right of persons to freely express themselves and their right to also freely assemble as entrenched in Section 25 and 26 respectively of the aforesaid constitution.”
They argued that people have right to life as entrenched in Section 16 of the aforesaid constitution, and that people’s right to protection from arbitrary arrest and or detention as entrenched in section 17 of the said constitution.”
“The Bar Association strongly condemns any killing, use of force, injuries to persons and or destruction of property which did or may have occurred during the incident contrary to the laws of Sierra Leone. The government should also follow due process of redress,” the Bar Association release noted, adding that the Association entreats all concerned to exercise restraint, be peaceful and helpful in resolving the situation.