Honourable Chairperson and Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
All protocols observed,
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, in collaboration with its Sierra Leone partners, including Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law and a Pool of Human Rights Defenders in Sierra Leone, would like to congratulate the Commission for convening once again its Ordinary Session, the importance of which cannot be overemphasized.
Please permit us to bring to the attention of the Commission some human rights violations committed by the security apparatus, especially the police, in Sierra Leone.
We acknowledge the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to introduce reforms in the Sierra Leone Police since the end of the civil war. In spite of these efforts, significant challenges remain, including the lack of accountability for heinous crimes committed by the Sierra Leone Police. In recent years, the Sierra Leone Police have committed a series of human rights violations, ranging from beating up of persons, to unlawful killing of civilians in different parts of the country. The April 29, 2020 unlawful killings of inmates at the Pademba Road correctional facility readily comes to mind. This is in contravention of Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The unlawful killings in the Pademba Road correctional facility took place in the morning hours of Wednesday, April 29, 2020, after a report that a remanded inmate had been tested positive of the Coronavirus disease led to a riot in the correctional facility. Police sources claimed that two (2) prison guards and five (5) inmates lost their lives during the riot. There is however a public outcry that the number of inmates allegedly killed by the police far exceeds the reported number. Whilst the government did set up an investigation committee to look into the circumstances leading to the riot, no one has since been held accountable and brought to justice for those unlawful killings. In spite of calls for those responsible to be held to account, the government has done nothing about it. Unfortunately, it looks like a systemic problem, as police officers have for the most part escaped accountability for egregious crimes over the years.
We are therefore most respectfully calling on the government of Sierra Leone to:
- Make public the findings of the committee that was set up to investigate the Pademba road prison riot.
- Ensure accountability and justice for those unlawful killings in order to give victims and family members of the deceased a sense of closure
Thank you for your kind attention.