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Monday, July 4, 2022

Police brutality: Bar Association condemns inhuman treatment of LAJ

By Alusine Sesay

The Sierra Leone Bar Association has condemned the inhuman treated meted on Alhaji Amadu Bah, popularly known as LAJ, who was reportedly tortured while in police custody at the headquarters of the Operational Support Division (OSD) with his dreadlocks shaved without his consent. 

“We note with grave concern the allegations of torture and degrading treatment of Alhaji Amadu Bah and the refusal to allow his family members or his Solicitors have access to him whilst in Police custody as contained in an open letter dated 17th June 2022 addressed to the Inspector General of Police,” a release from the association reads.

Earlier,after a lot of public outcry poured on the social media against the mishandling of the popular hip hop rapper,the Sierra Leone Police issued a press statement in which they admitted that they got him shaved based on the Standard Operation Procedure .

Based on the content of the police press release,the Sierra Leone Bar Association noted that “These allegations of inhumane treatment have been bolstered by the admission of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) in a Press Release dated 18th June 2022 stating that: “Alhaji Amadu Bah who was and still in that custody, had his dreadlocks shaved off…” Such action by the Sierra Leone Police amounts to degrading and serious mistreatment and in blatant violation of section 20(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 Act No. 6 of 1991.

“The SLBA views the reasons proferred by the SLP for such action equally untenable, as the Standard Operating Proceedure (SOP) in the said facility is in stark variance with the provision of section 20(1) Supra and a flagrant disregard of the several International Treaty Instruments that Sierra Leone has ratified which provide for, among other things the respect for the inherent dignity of the human person and protection against torture, other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment whilst in custody.”

The Bar Association stated that, “While SLBA recognises that the general duties of the Sierra Leone Police are, inter alia, for the detection of crimes, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order and the protection of lives and property, these duties do not derogate the Sierra Leone Police from its adherence to presumption of innocence of a detainee and the provision of section 17(2)(a) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act of 6 1991 which provides for, amongst other things, the right of a detained person to access a legal practitioner and to communicate with him confidentially.”

The association noted that, as a moral guarantor of the Constitution of Sierra Leone and all other International instruments binding on all Sierra Leoneans as a people and as a country feels deeply perturbed by that state of affairs.

They recommended among other things that, the Independent Police Complaints Board conducts an immediate investigation into all allegations of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of Alhaji Amadu Bah and other detainees relating to his arrest, the Police Council suspends the operation of all SOPs in Police Custody Facilities pending a thorough review of the said SOPs to ensure they are compliant with the provisions of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 1991 and International Treaty Instruments which guarantee rights to humane treatment in detention.

Meanwhile, the Independent Police Complaints Board, has resumed investigations into the said allegations.

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