August 18, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has called on the Sierra Leone Police to stop escalating tension in conflict situations across the country by adopting proper community relationship strategies and stop resorting to the use of fire arms at the slightest provocation.
The statement from CHRDI came following confrontation between police officers and youths in Kabala, Koinadugu district, during a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday (August 16) over the government’s decision to relocate a Youth village that had been promised the district since 2014
The clash resulted in the death of three civilians while others were severely injured.
According to the organization’s Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma, the ease with which police officers use live bullets to disperse unarmed protesters, was a very worrying sign for the nation’s political future.
“We in the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) strongly condemn the recent police attack on innocent protesters and the police brutality both during and after the riot. We are extremely concerned that the standard of policing in Sierra Leone has sunk to unimaginable depths. For far too long, there have been double standards in place for police officers involved in incidents of brutality and misconduct,” he said and added that the unfortunate event in Kabala was no exception.
He strongly condemned police ‘attack’ and brutality on innocent protesters and stated that a police officer should always attempt to use non-violent means first, and that lethal force may only be employed when non-violent means proved ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.
Mr. Fatoma opined that the impunity enjoyed by the Sierra Leone Police explains the distrust and cynicism that undermines effective policing in the country, claiming that no police officer has ever been convicted for any of the killings or acts of brutality against civilians.
He called on the government and the police to raise their standards to internationally accepted levels and noted that it was time for substantive policy change within the Sierra Leone Police Force, including timely and meaningful accountability in order to begin restoring community trust in the force.
“Police should protect lives, not endanger them. They should be a friend of the people, seeking to protect their lives and properties at all cost. We acknowledge that the police are mandated to use force where necessary in order to enforce the law, but we believe that such a mandate is not without responsibility,” he said.