Written by Sheka Tarawallie : Presidential Press Secretary Thursday, 17 September 2009 18:51
President Ernest Bai Koroma today presented in full the report of the Bankole-Thompson Commission to leaders of the main political parties and hence to the public. Speaking at the ceremony at State House, the Head of State, after giving a background of why and how the Commission was formed, said, among other things, “We have a responsibility to develop the democratic process of this country….At the end of it all, it is for us to create an atmosphere of friendliness, an atmosphere of commitment towards building the democratic process in this country for us to know that we have no other country to develop but Sierra Leone. We may have different agendas of development but the ultimate is for us to develop this country. Given the democratic process, we should ensure that we introduce orderliness in the behaviour of everybody within the political process; then Sierra Leone will be restored to the place it rightfully belongs in the international community…”
Statements of appreciation were made by the Administrative Chairman of the ruling All People’s congress (APC), Birch M. Conteh; the Chairman of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), John Benjamin; the Chairman of the minority opposition People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), Mohamed Bangura; and the Representative of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIPSL), Mr. Gebremedhin Hagoss.
The report was accompanied with a Government White Paper, which is more or less a summary of the former. The ceremony was chaired by Information and Communications Minister I.B. Kargbo.
The Commission’s Terms of Reference were:
(i) To investigate allegations of rape and sexual abuse against women which occurred at the Headquarters of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) on 16th March 2009
(ii) To identify the persons involved in the substance of the allegations and to determine whether any breach of law occurred
(iii) To recommend the action to be taken against persons who committed any breach of law
“Predicated upon the totality of the evidence presented before the Commission and upon the facts as found, and guided by applicable principles of law covering the different facets of the Inquiry, both in its factual and legal perspectives, the Commission finds each allegation of rape set out in Part 3 of the Report, unsustainable in law. The logical corollary of such a finding is that the Commission perceives of no legal basis for recommending any prosecutorial course of action against the named or identified suspects herein. We also conclude that the said victims were each subjected to physical mistreatment amounting to outrages upon their personal dignity or other inhumane conduct in violation of their human rights protection.
1. Based on the evidence presented before the Commission that the events which are the subject of the Commission’s Terms Of Reference were a result of the political violence that erupted between All People’s Congress Party and Sierra Leone People’s Party supporters on the day in question, the Commission recommends that Government considers the advisability and expediency of adopting measures and setting up mechanisms to promote a culture of political tolerance, responsibility and maturity among political parties in the spirit of the Joint Communiqué issued by both the APC and the SLPP on the 2nd April 2009
2. Based on the evidence presented before the Commission that the performance of the Police during the period of the political violence fell far short of expectation, a fact admitted by some of the Police witnesses, the Commission recommends that in future Government takes appropriate steps to ensure that Police deployment during such volatile situations are adequate and effective
3. Based on the evidence before the commission of a strong perception on the part of victim/witnesses that the Police were in collusion with the alleged perpetrators in victimizing them, we recommend that Government considers the advisability and expediency of investigating allegations of this nature reflecting adversely on Police neutrality, impartiality and professionalism.
4. Based on the evidence presented to the Commission to the effect that sexual violence was meted out to the alleged victims as a political tool, a strong and legitimate perception held by advocates of the elimination of gender-based discrimination especially against women, We recommend that Government considers the advisability and expediency of addressing this problem as a matter of utmost priority, from the perspective of social justice.
We take this opportunity of registering our profound gratitude to the Government of Sierra Leone for affording us the opportunity to serve the country as members of this Commission. We would also like to thank UNIPSL, and all those groups, agencies and institutions who, in diverse ways, have facilitated the work of the Commission.
Finally, our special thanks are due to UNIFEM and the Witness Protection Unit of the Special Court for Sierra Leone for their assistance to the Commission. We are also grateful to Ms. Chiseche Salome Mibenge from Zambia for availing us with her legal expertise
Our final thanks go to our indefatigable Secretary, Mr. Harun Alrashid Bah and other members of the Secretariat staff for their untiring effort in keeping the Commission operating.”
THE PRESS SECRETARIAT