… for misuse of firearms
May 3, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL) has slammed what they alleged is misuse of firearms by police officers to disperse unarmed supporters of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) at their party office in Freetown, on 26 April.
The statement by CHRDSL came in the aftermath of a clash between the police and opposition party supporters on Independence Day, which also happens to be the foundation day of the party, resulting in reported assault and arrest of dozens of opposition politicians and supporters, as the country was celebrating its 55 years of independence.
The release, signed by the organisation’s chief executive, Abdul M. Fatoma, says CHRDSL expresses its concern and dissatisfaction over the spate of violent confrontations between the police and supporters of the country’s opposition party in the capital Freetown.
“CHRDSL believes that supporters of the opposition party who were also marking their 65 year anniversary have been unfairly treated by the Police on a day that means a lot to them. We also want to remind the SLP about the country’s constitution and other international human rights laws which guarantee every Sierra Leonean the right to assemble,” says Mr. Fatoma.
He notes that any unlawful action by the Police was unreasonable and not justifiable in a democratic society, adding that the alleged use of live bullets to disperse the unarmed opposition supporters at their party headquarters was a worrying sign for the country’s political future.
While acknowledging that the police are mandated to use force where necessary in order to enforce law and order, Mr. Fatoma insists that such mandate goes with responsibility.
He urged the police to be mindful of escalating tension in any conflict in areas across the country by adopting good community relationship and eschew resorting to use of firearms at the slightest provocation.
The CHRDSL chief executive adds that all law enforcement officers must be guided by the principles of reasonable force and democratic policing and that police officers should always attempt to use non-violent means first, while lethal force may only be employed when non-violent means are ineffective.
“While we again condemn all deliberate attacks on civilians, including politicians and their supporters, police perpetrators of such attacks should not enjoy impunity. We are calling on the Sierra Leone Police to immediately conduct a fully transparent and impartial investigation into the lawless behaviour of their men,” the release concludes.