By Alieu Kondoh
The Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has cautioned the police on the use of fire arms against protesters.
This was captured in one of their recommendations after they concluded their investigations into the Makeni riot which claimed six lives.
“The Sierra Leone Police should stop taking fire arms containing live rounds at scenes of protest/demonstration except where it is extreme necessary, they should instead use rubber bullets and other lawful devices and mean to dispersing protesters,” HRCSL stated.
The Chairperson of HRCSL, Patricia Narsu Ndanema stated that the failure to relay information to other stakeholders and community people with regards the removal of the generator which was not provided as promised by the Mayor and no feedback to the Ministry of Energy is also responsible for the ugly event.
She explained that the planned relocation of the generator plant on 17th July, 2020 subsequently led to confrontation between security forces and an uncountable number of youths who took to the streets of Makeni after the national curfew hour of 11pm.
She maintained that they noted the use of live bullets by the joint security forces against youth who continuously regrouped in different parts of the town with sticks, stones and machetes.
They noted that a Medical Superintendent revealed that the six deaths resulted from the confrontation between the youth and security forces in the community between the nights of 17th -18th July,2020.
They urged the Independent Police Complaint Board (IPCB) to investigate the discharge of fire arms which may have led to the death of civilians, adding that the government of Sierra Leone should bear the medical cost for the injured victims.
They have recommended that the government of Sierra Leone should make provisions that will better equip the police with riot safety gears and devices that will enable them to professionally respond to riots and protests without the loss of lives from both sides.