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Refusal to allow citizens protest hike in fuel price…

CHRDI slams Sierra Leone police

November 18, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has slammed at the attitude and behaviour of the Sierra Leone Police force towards citizens, who raised dissenting views with regards to the hike in fuel price.

Last Friday (November 11), the government through the Petroleum Regulatory Agency and oil marketers, announced an astronomical increase in the prices of petroleum products from Le3, 750 per littre for petrol, diesel and kerosene to Le6,000 per littre.

The announcement attracted lots of criticisms from civil society organizations and members of the public, who were of the opinion that the timing was wrong.

The Sierra Leone police prevented people from staging a peaceful protest on the issue and threatened to arrest those who might have wanted to force their way to protest.

CHRDI’s Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma stated that the reaction from the Police towards dissenting voices was tantamount to denying citizens the right to protest peacefully across Freetown.

According to him, peaceful protest was a fundamental civil liberty and that it behoves the Police, who are enforcers of the law to recognize that right and ensure they provide the enabling environment for citizens to exercise it.

 “We want to state very emphatically that the Sierra Leone Police has no right to deny a fundamental freedom in this way. Their duty is to uphold citizen’s rights, not to conspire against them. Police officers within the force should always guarantee the security of the people and not generate insecurity,” he said.

Mr. Fatoma called on the SLP to stop what he referred to as their “sneaky subversion” of rights of assembly with immediate effect and allow citizens to enjoy their full constitutional and democratic rights to protest and make their voices heard.

He also urged the government to take urgent measures to stop the intimidation and harassment of innocent citizens in the country and create an enabling environment for the aggrieved to address challenging issues that hinge on national development and cohesion.

“The right of assembly in a public place is truly one of the cornerstones of citizens’ freedom. It represents the exercise of the right to bear witness and bring peaceful pressure to bear on rulers who have acted against their interest,” he added.

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