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Salone Police accused of arbitrary arrests

February 2, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie 

A right based social policy advocacy organisation, Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL), has accused the Sierra Leone Police of habitually arresting and detaining persons arbitrarily even though the constitution and laws prohibit such.

The organisation’s Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatorma, told Concord Times that according to a research they conducted individuals were being held for questioning for longer than permissible under law, and that lengthy pre-trial detention was widespread and systematic in the country.

He claimed that some of the police officers they spoke to at police stations and detention facilities across the country confirmed that they were aware of ill-treatment of detainees in their custody, which he said was tantamount to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“The law requires warrants for searches and arrests, but however, arrest without warrant is very common in Sierra Leone. It is essential that the judicial system is strengthened so that its independence and impartiality is restored to ensure effective administration, as well as fair and equitable dispensation of justice,” he said.

Fatorma revealed that it was not uncommon for citizens accused of bailable offences to be denied bail on very questionable grounds, a development which according to him, pervades the justice and law enforcement sectors to the extent that the term “orders from above” is often invoked to infringe on the rights of citizens in conflict with the law.

He also accused the government of allowing both the Sierra Leone Police and Chiefdom Police to hold suspects in police detention cells without charge or explanation for more than three days, for suspected misdemeanors.

He urged the government to effect an immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and anyone facing judicial proceedings based on politically motivated charges without solid and irrefutable evidence having been presented before the courts.

“There are impediments that sometimes come with pursuing the truth, especially on matters related to the state. The Government of Sierra Leone should not turn away from its obligations and allow this state of affairs to continue,” he maintained.

He called for accountability and transparency in all state institutions and human rights to be respected in order that people would live in dignity, including the rights to life, physical integrity, health, education, land, and freedom of expression, assembly and association, plus the right to access to public information.

However, head of the Sierra Leone Police Media Unit, Assistant Superintendent Brima Kamara, refuted the allegation relating to arresting and detaining people arbitrarily.

“To say we have been arresting people arbitrarily is not correct because we are aware of the rules and the laws under section 17 Act No.6 of 1991. If the police arrest people, they do it for a reason,” he said and noted that the rule says when someone is arrested, he or she must be told for what offence they are being arrested, which he claimed their personnel do.

ASP Kamara challenged Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone to produce their research report and evidence to substantiate their allegations.

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