Today (16-08-2016) Youth of Kabala, Koinadugu District who were staging a peaceful demonstration over the government’s decision to relocate a Youth village that had been promised the district since 2014, were met with extreme Police violence and some of them paid with their lives.
According to our sources from the township, Police officers called on the scene to control the protesters, fatally shot youth and injured a few others. This resulted in a rampage that led to the loss of more lives and burning down of houses.
We in the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) strongly condemn the recent police attack on innocent protesters and the police brutality both during and in its aftermath.
We are extremely concerned that the standard of policing in Sierra Leone has sunk to unimaginable depths. For far too long, there have been double standards in place for police officers involved in incidents of brutality and misconduct and today’s event in Kabala is no exception.
The ease with which police officers use live bullets to disperse unarmed protesters is a very worrying sign for this nation’s political future.
We have evidence of Police violence and professional misconduct from all over Sierra Leone and we believe that the impunity enjoyed by the Sierra Leone Police explains the distrust and cynicism that undermines effective policing in Sierra Leone. No police officer has ever been convicted for any of the killings or acts of brutality against civilians.
We in the CHRDI, call on the government and the police to raise their standards to internationally accepted levels. It is time for substantive policy change within the Sierra Leone Police Force, including timely and meaningful accountability in order to begin restoring community trust in the Sierra Leone police force.
Police should protect lives, not endanger them. They should be a friend of the people, seeking to protect their lives and properties at all cost.
We acknowledge that the police are mandated to use force where necessary in order to enforce the law, but we believe that such a mandate is not without responsibility. The poignant question that should be asked even as the country reels from the aftermath of this despicable incident is, was the use of lethal force by the police justifiable?
In view of the above concerns, CHRDI deems it fit to make the following observations;
1. The SLP should stop escalating tension in any conflict across the country by adopting proper community relationship strategies and stop resorting to use of fire arms at the slightest provocation.
2. All Law enforcement officers must be guided by the principles of reasonable force and democratic policing.
3. A police officer shall always attempt to use non-violent means first and lethal force may only be employed when non-violent means are ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.
We also wish to draw the attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their right.
Note: Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) is a Rights based social-policy advocacy Organisation.
We Draw attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights.
CHRDI is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.
Abdul M Fatoma Chief Executive CHRDI 16-08-2016
© CHRDI-HUMAN RIGHTS & POLICY BRIEF