June 17, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has called on community stakeholders to discourage the act of mob justice against alleged suspects of crimes.
Brima A. Sheriff was speaking during an engagement with chiefdom authorities and other stakeholders in the Niawa Chiefdom, Kenema District, eastern Sierra Leone.
The engagement was to prevent recurrence of such human rights abuse in the chiefdom and increase awareness among local authorities and community members, as well as educate local authorities on existing laws dealing with the issue of sorcery and witchcraft and how to deal with suspects generally.
According to Mr. Sheriff, it was against the laws of the country for people to carryout mob-justice against alleged suspects of crimes.
He also cautioned community stakeholders to control their emotions when accusations are made against someone for indulging in sorcery, witchcraft, and other offences.
Also, vice chairperson of the commission, Mrs. Daphne Olu-Williams, added that suspects of witchcrafts and sorcery and other related offences should not be tortured, stigmatised or banished.
Whilst presenting the human rights based approach in handling suspects, Director of Complaints, Investigations and Legal Services, Doris Sonsiama reminded the audience of laws against offences against the persons and the human rights implications.
She urged chiefdom stakeholders to use the right based approach and also work in accordance with the Local Court Act.
Paramount Chief Mariama Jaward Tamia of Niawa Chiefdom praised the HRC-SL for taking human rights education to her chiefdom and highlighting human rights implications in dealing with suspects.
She urged her people to be attentive and put into practice what they have learnt from the outreach session.
The chiefdom residents gave meaningful contributions and made commitments to implementing human rights standards.
In early 2015, the Northern Regional Office of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone received a complaint from a relative of a victim who had been banished from Binkolo, Safroko Limba Chiefdom, in the Bombali district. A successful investigation and mediation effort was done, resulting in the return of the victim to the community.