The Sierra Leone Police has come under the spotlight again for yet another bizarre as Amnesty International accused the institution of gross human rights violations with impunity.
The report titled: “A Force for Good Restriction of Peaceful Assembly and Impunity for excessive Use of Force by the Sierra Leone Police” highlighted events of brutal police crackdown of peaceful protests during the last 10 years.
It is against this backdrop that Amnesty and other rights groups are urging for the lifting of restrictions on peaceful demonstrations and end endemic impunity on police brutality.
The report noted that peaceful anti-government protests have been repeatedly refused permission or violently dispersed with unlawful killings by police with impunity.
The organization calls for government to ensure citizens’ right to peaceful assembly and urged the new SLPP government to implement reforms to ensure police handle demonstrations with civility.
The further noted that for 10 years the police have been getting away with heinous crimes such as murder and injuries on protesters with no one being held accountable; that is why it is urging the new government to introduce reforms to allow for peaceful demonstration and prevent police highhandedness.
“President Bio has made many positive statements about strengthening human rights, but any reform of the criminal justice system must go together with a strong commitment to achieve accountability and redress for past abuses,” says Director of Amnesty International, Solomon Sogbandi.
The report noted that during the last 10 years, police frequent used excessive force to disperse spontaneous protest with at least nine protesters killed and more than 80 injured in the process.
Among other notable incidents captured in the report are the shooting dead by police officers in August 2016, of two school boys in Kabala who were protesting against the removal of the Youth Village from their town.
Also, in March 2017, police reportedly killed a young boy in Bo when they opened fire on students protesting the closure of Njala University and as a result Amnesty has called on the authorities to ensure victims and their families are adequately compensated.
It could be recalled that since coming to power, President Bio has made commitments to reform the security sector and protect human rights in the country.