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HRSCL to investigate the conduct of law enforcement officers

February 1, 2022

By Alfred Koroma

Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) is set to open public inquiry to look into the conduct of law enforcement officers for human rights violations committed by officers in the process of executing their duties, says the Vice-Chairperson, Victor Idrissa Lansana Esq.

The Vice-Chairman of the Commission made the above disclosure during a press conference organised on the 31st January at the commission’s headquarters in Freetown.

 The Public Inquiry will look into alleged systemic human rights violations that occurred between the period of 2015 to 2021, in which the commission will examine individual cases of alleged human rights violations and abuses; analyze and articulate human rights issues, and violations experienced by affected person(s).

Speaking at the event, the Vice-Chairperson said the Commission has monitored and documented many allegations of human rights violations by law enforcement officers and documented instances of attacks  on law enforcement officers by citizens, thus the need for the Commission to undertake public inquiry into the conduct of officers with the allegations against them.

The inquiry will consider whether the conduct of the law enforcement officers is in contrast with the country’s laws and international human rights standards with focus on, whether the use of disproportionate force by Law Enforcement Officers  (LEOs) in the execution of their duties,was is in contrast with UN Guiding Principles on the use of Force and Fire Arms.

 It would also establish whether there has been loss of lives and grievous bodily harm resulting from excessive use of force by LEOs and whether the right to property was violated by LEOs in executing their mandate.

 It would investigate whether LEOs lost their lives or sustained grievous bodily harm in the hands of members of the public or individuals while carrying out their lawful duties contrary to Section 16 and 13(j) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991.

It would further look into whether individual LEOs and/or their institutions were held accountable for their actions in line with their institutional Codes of Conduct.

 The commission will further investigate whether appropriate actions were taken against individuals for abuses against LEOs, and whether citizens were adequately aware of their rights and responsibilities especially the duty to respect and cooperate with LEOs in the execution of their lawful mandate.

It will establish whether LEOs were in need of further and requisite training in enforcing the law and whether they were provided with requisite logistical and operational resources.

The Inquiry, which will simultaneously take place in the Western Area, north-west and south-east, is scheduled to last for eight months and has been divided into three phases – pre-inquiry stage, inquiry stage and post inquiry stage.

The pre-inquiry stage which started in January ends in March. The inquiry stage is scheduled to take place from April to May while the post inquiry is scheduled to commence in June and ends in August, this year.

According to Victor Lansana, the commission will allow the public to participate in the inquiry by providing information through written memoranda by individuals, groups or interested organizations that will be useful in determining the issues before the panel.

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