In reaction to recent events that have ensued in the wake of the unprecedented hike in the pump price of fuel, the CHRDI wants to express dismay over the attitude and behaviour of the Sierra Leone Police Force towards citizens who raised dissenting views on the issue.
The CHRDI is of the conviction that the reaction of the Police to dissenting voices is tantamount to denying citizens the right to protest peacefully.
The CHRDI strongly believes that peaceful protest is a fundamental civil liberty and it behoves the Police who are enforcers of the law to recognise that right and ensure they provide the enabling environment for citizens to exercise it.
The constitutional responsibility of the Police in relation to the right of citizens to protest, stops at keeping the peace, protecting the citizens who want to protest and creating the enabling environment by ensuring crowd and traffic management as the case may be.
The CHRDI would like to emphasize that 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.
Article 11 of the AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES RIGHTS, also embodied in “CHAPTER III Of THE COUNTRY’s 1991 CONSTITUTION -THE RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL, clearly states in section 26 that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others.”
We also 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 Citizens rights, not to conspire against them. Police officers within the SLP should always guarantee the security of the people and not generate insecurity.
In the same vein, we cannot avoid the truth about a dysfunctional opposition led by a failed and tried leadership who have betrayed the hope of the citizens’ just because we want to protect the legacy of the struggle for democracy.
We urge 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.
In view of all of the above, the CHRDI demands that the Sierra Leone Police stop this sneaky subversion of rights of assembly immediately and allow Citizens enjoy their full constitutional and Democratic rights to protest and make their voices heard if they think that those they voted for and entrusted with the responsibility to run the state have failed them.
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
©CHRDI-HUMAN RIGHTS AND POLICY BRIEF