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Preventing and restricting peaceful protest…

  Human rights lawyer blasts police

November 15, 2016

For preventing and restricting a planned protest against the astronomical increase in the price of fuel and other petroleum products, which has automatically and negatively affected every facets of life, Lawyer Emmenual Saffa  Abdulai of the Renaissance Movement Sierra Leone, has charged that the Sierra Leone Police was basically working in the interest of the ruling government functionaries instead of the people.

While on the popular Radio Democracy 98.1 Good Morning Salone Programme, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Richard Moigbeh, categorically stated that the mandate of the police was to protect lives and properties and that whosoever wanted to undertake any protest should go through the right procedure, citing the 1965 Public Order Act. He said the police would not tolerate any protest in relation to the increase in the price of petrol and other petroleum products, adding that they were opened to further negotiations from whosoever wanted to undertake a protest of any nature.

In his response, the Freetown based Human Rights Lawyer, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai stated that: “The people of Sierra Leone have the constitutional right to assemble subject to the approval of the police. Such laws have no place in the 21st century; the police always renege on giving people clearance to peacefully protest.”

He said the rights of the people to assemble supersede the 1965 Public Order Act, noting that the press release from the police warning citizens not to protest was a clear manifestation that they were jittery and were up to satisfy the wish of the politicians.

He charged that the style of the Sierra Leone Police was against democratic policing, and that the issue of price hike is a national concern, therefore calling for it reduction was necessary.

Meanwhile, the Renaissance Movement has called on Sierra Leoneans to reject the current price of petroleum products announced by the Petroleum Regulatory Agency, stating that part of the problem bedeviling the country was the uncontrollable spending of the government.

They had encouraged citizens to wear black and take to the streets of Freetown in protest of the fuel price increase. But the said protest was prevented by the Sierra Leone police, who earlier issued out a scary press release, cowing people from protesting what many described as absolute disregard to the plights of the public amidst economic hardship.

The city of Freetown was yesterday painted with men in blue jackets armed to the teeth, coupled with the movement of anti-protest vehicles, while the people continue to suffer in silence.

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