AI Damns 9 Police Killings, 80 Injuries
The internationally respected human rights organization, Amnesty International has on June 3rd released a report on the Sierra Leone Police. According to the Report titled “A force for Good? Restriction on Peaceful Assembly and Impunity for Excessive use of force by the Sierra Leone Police…Over the last ten years, nine people have been killed and 80 others injured as a result of police brutality.
The report claims that that police have done nothing to investigate or hold anyone to account for the violence perpetrated by the officers of the Sierra Leone Police against innocent civilians. The report documents the Njala University student demonstration that was violently dispersed by members of the SLP’s paramilitary, OSD. The peaceful protest organised by students protesting the five months closure of their university due to unpaid wages of their lecturers led to the killing of one teenager and two students shot.
Abdulai, a survivor, now lives with bullet ledged in his heart, however, the Police department failed to institute any action against the commanding officer who ordered the use of live arms against the future leaders.
In 2009, a public enquiry found that the same Commanding Officer ( name withheld) who ordered the use of deadly force on the students was also responsible for election violence, which led the inquiry to recommend his dismissal. Again the police failed to take action.
According to Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, coordinator of a civil society coalition working on Police Accountability in Sierra Leone, “over the last ten years the level of impunity in the police only emboldened officers of the force to continue to violate human rights of Sierra Leoneans.” He went on to state that the “mere failure of the Police entity to take action when it is clear that one of theirs has fallen foul of the rules of engagement reveal there was complicity that could only be explained as the norm at that time as neither the Parliament nor the President did anything to address impunity.”
The Amnesty International West Africa Researcher, Sabrina Mahtani, believes “impunity for police abuses is endemic in Sierra Leone.” She went on that the “police have regularly used excessive force to suppress spontaneous demonstrations. She further revealed that “at least over 80 people have their property looted or were arbitrarily arrested during protests over the past 10 years.” She decried that “yet no police officer has been held accountable for the incidents mentioned in their reports.”