1, 2016 -
As Sierra Leone's commitment to human rights comes under
scrutiny, rights group says the government of the rat
has failed to bring perpetrators of violations to book.
Condemns the public examination of humiliation of school
girls alleged to be pregnant.
This month sees the spotlight focused on
Sierra Leone's human rights record under the Universal
Periodic Review (UPR) and the rights group Amnesty
International (AI) has, in a
the implementation of recommendations accepted by Sierra
Leone in a previous UPR. AI says it remains
concerned about continuing
complaints of torture and other ill-treatment of
detainees, arbitrary arrests, and excessive use of force
It says it is also
concerned about the use of criminal defamation charges
against journalists which undermine the right to freedom
of expression and the ban on pregnant girls attending
mainstream school and sitting exams.
The AI says that
"The government has not
done enough to investigate and hold accountable police
officers accused of using arbitrary or abusive force.
Two cases are highlighted -
"In April 2012, police
killed an unarmed woman, Musu Conteh, and injured at
least 11 others when workers at a mining company in
Bumbuna, Tonkolili held a peaceful demonstration against
poor working conditions and remuneration.
The Human Rights Commission of
Sierra Leone investigated the incident
and called for criminal investigations and prosecutions.
The government initiated a Coroner's Inquest into the
killing; however, to date no one has been held to
There were at least two
allegations of unlawful killings by the police in 2014,
when the police opened fire in response to a riot in
Kono relating to a suspected Ebola case. So far there
has been no effective and independent investigation into
has also documented increased restrictions on the rights
to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly during
the state of emergency imposed in July 2014 to combat
the Ebola outbreak.
There has been an
increase in arrests of opposition members, bans on
peaceful protests and an unwillingness to tolerate
dissent following the removal of former Vice President
Samuel Sam-Sumana on 18 March 2015.
On Sierra Leone’s
Independence Day on 27 April 2015, 15 members of the
main opposition party, Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)
and a Senior Officer from the Human Rights Commission of
Sierra Leone, were arrested in Kenema following a
protest at the SLPP office.
They are currently on
trial. There are concerns about excessive use of force
during arrest by the police with several people injured.
says it is concerned at the Ministry of Education’s
discriminatory policy of barring pregnant girls from
attending school and sitting their Basic Education
Certification Exams (BECE) exams which was launched on
30 March 2015.
The policy appears to
be based on discriminatory views and negative
The Minister has
expressed the view that he fears that pregnant girls
will set a bad example to other girls.
Sources indicate that
many pregnant girls are afraid to attend school because
of the statements by the Minister of Education and
others in the media. The exclusion of pregnant girls
from school and exams seems to be a common practice as
highlighted by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra
For example, in 2011
the West African Examinations Council stopped pregnant
girls in Sierra Leone from taking their exams. In some
cases, the ban on pregnant girls attending mainstream
schools is being enforced through humiliating and
degrading treatment of the girls.
interviewed girls who had experienced or witnessed
others being subjected to degrading procedures by
teachers and others in positions of authority, such as
For example, girls have
had their breasts and stomachs felt by adults in public
on school premises to see if they are pregnant.
Some girls have been
compelled by their schools to take urine tests. This
practice violates girls’ rights to privacy, physical and
mental integrity and to be free from cruel, inhuman or
highlighted are the tip of the iceberg of human rights
violation by state actors and others enjoying the
protection of the state. It would be recalled that a
number of reports on these violations have been reported
on and in some instances, the rat himself had authorised
investigations but alas, nothing has been done giving
the impression that impunity would always be encouraged
as long as it serves the agenda of the government, the
ruling APC party and its operatives.
The use of
sexual violence as
a weapon of choice by ruling party operatives as well as
the armed wing of the police, the OSD is well documented
with the government doing nothing to address the
Indeed one member of
the Executive was recently cleared of rape allegations
in court after a massive government-sponsored media
campaign that vilified the victim painting her as
someone who practically asked for the sexual assault on
her with some of the paid media outlets writing articles
that gave no respect to the rights and privacy of the
victim. It is not lost on Sierra Leoneans that the
Judiciary is controlled by the Executive (read the rat
at State House) and that victims of sexual and other
forms of violence have no chance of getting justice.
Here's what one
Freetown news outlet AWOKO
"In the alleged rape
and assault case against former deputy Minister of
Education 2, Mahmoud Tawarally, a High court yesterday
acquitted and discharged him.
Addressing the Freetown
High Court No.2, Justice Abdulai Charm said that he
would base his ruling on count one which is rape, since
they had earlier requested in their oral submission that
he squashes count two, three and four, since there was
In his ruling, the
Judge said that consent was very vital in determining
the outcome of the case. He went on to narrate the
testimony of the prosecution witnesses stating that
eight of them gave evidence before the court.
He added that in most
cases, consent might be determined by the circumstances
surrounding the matter. He also emphasized that there
should be consistency in recent complaint.
witnesses were presented before the court by the
prosecution to prove their case.
evidences which to him was not strong enough to prove
the prosecution’s case, the judge ruled in favour of the
Minister based on the testimony of the medical doctor,
Dr. Matilda King, in which she stated before the court
that there was no injury in the victim’s private part.
The former deputy
minister was charged two years ago on four count charges
which include rape, wounding with intent, wounding and
assault occasioning bodily harm, due to an alleged rape
and assault of a 24 year-old lady who claimed that she
went to the former deputy minister for a Ukrainian
Dr Matilda King. Where
have we seen that name before? Ah yes - she was the
doctor who is reported to have said that the SLPP women
who alleged they had been raped by marauding APC party
supporters were being economical with the truth - that
they were not raped.
The Centre for Accountability and
the Rule of Law, CARL a rights group in
Sierra Leone that had been following the case issued a
statement - part of which reads -
that the rights of the alleged victim were not fully
respected in the course of the proceedings. In
particular, during the preliminary investigation the
alleged victim was made to testify in open court and
without the various protective measures provided under
the Sexual Offences Act 2012.
CARL was particularly
alarmed by the fact that no measures were applied by the
court to ensure that the alleged victim was prevented
from seeing the accused, and that her testimony was
occasionally interrupted by loud murmuring from the
gallery. This was not only a violation of the law, but
it also compromised the security and safety of the
alleged victim. But for the swift intervention of the
police, the alleged victim could have been lynched by
persons who were apparently supporters of the accused.
This further reminds us
of the failure of, and the need for, the Rules of Court
Committee to develop rules relating to special measures
for victims testifying before the court. CARL
acknowledges and commends the High Court for ensuring
that protective measures were provided for the alleged
victim during the trial.
CARL further notes,
with regret, that some sections of the press flagrantly
violated Section 41 of the Sexual Offences Act 2012 when
they published information that had the effect of
identifying the alleged victim.
Even though the law
specifies a penalty for such a breach, the law
enforcement officers were remiss in their failure to
hold the perpetrators accountable. The Independent Media
Commission also glaringly failed to investigate whether
such publications amounted to a breach of the media code
CARL urges the Sierra
Leone Police to launch an investigation into the alleged
The learned judge
acquitted and discharged the accused on the offence of
rape by principally relying on the evidence of the
medical doctor which, according to the judge,
contradicted the alleged victim’s evidence as to the
accused having used force to gain [sexual] penetration.
The verdict, however,
noted the findings of the same medical doctor that the
alleged victim had “a deep cut with swelling on the
lower lip; abrasion from a finger mark on the right side
of the face by the eye; redness of the right eye, etc.”
The judge said he could
not, however, ascertain when the injuries were caused or
inflicted on the accused. “Was it before or after the
sexual intercourse?”, the judge asked. As the doctor
could not state with certainty whether the injuries were
received before or after the sexual intercourse,
especially given the alleged victim’s testimony that the
accused assaulted her after the intercourse, he did not
find evidence of rape.
Although the judge
relied primarily on the report and opinion of the
medical doctor in concluding that the alleged victim was
not raped, the judge however acquitted and discharged
the accused on the count of assault even though the same
medical report showed that the alleged victim had “a
deep cut with swelling on the lower lip; abrasion from a
finger mark on the right side of the face by the eye;
redness of the right eye, etc.”.
This was an opportunity
for the court to make a strong statement on violence
against women and girls. Sadly it was not taken, even
though the judge could have inferred the assault from
the medical examination report before him. In other
words, he could have still convicted the accused on
assault even after acquitting and discharging him of
The report on an
independent investigation into the violence in Bo in
which the flag bearer of the main opposition, Julius
Maada Bio was wounded, the APC party office torched and
at least one unarmed motor cycle rider was murdered by a
police officer had long been presented by the
Kelvin Lewis Commission
and yet nothing has been done to bring perpetrators to
The report of the
Shears-Moses Inquiry set up by the rat himself made a
number of recommendations including sanctions against
one of his so-called close protection officers - one
Idrissa Kamara also known as Leatherboot, a former
soldier now said to be serving with the police. This is
a part of the report
"We are amazed that a
Police Officer charged with the responsibility of
protecting the President as bodyguard would leave State
House unguarded without permission, with about two men
and proceed to the scene without the knowledge of anyone
irresponsibility, disregard of authority, sign of
recklessness, and indiscipline.
We have been able to
see a video recording of the scenes at the SLPP
headquarters on 16th March 2009 (attached to this report
as Appendix B). While we actually saw the said "Leatherboot"
at the scene, he was not in anyway seen to be trying to
bring the situation under control.
There is no doubt that
those men and women in the SLPP headquarters were shaken
and in fear for their lives. By the evidence before us,
they took refuge at the top of the building and would
only give themselves up when they observed that United
Nations Personnel were there to get them out of the
He was also involved in
the massive brutal assault on one Tom Nyuma who was
accused of trying to kill one Ernest Bai Koroma, the
Presidential candidate of the then opposition APC party.
Leatherboot is also
implicated in the violence perpetrated against civilians
under the terror of the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil in
1997/8 and there are living witnesses who can testify to
the various acts ordered and carried out by him during
the January 6, 1999 invasion of the capital Freetown.
There's quite clearly
now, given the unwillingness and inability of the
government to hold to account those responsible for the
many human rights abuses, for the international
community to step in to enforce international justice.
Impunity should not be
Update: If the
deputy minister was cleared of rape - what about the
other charges relating to alleged violent conduct
against the victim?
What message is this
sending to others who use their position - be it in the
party or government or connections thereof to take
advantage of their victims?
Is the Joseph Kamara
ACC aware that this could well have been the case of an
official using/abusing his office for an advantage and
that he should have taken the appropriate action?