The Civil Society Movement in Sierra Leone in collaboration with fifty networks of civil society organizations yesterday released a report of Civil Society fact finding on the incidences of political violence in Freetown on the 13th and 16th March 2009.
The report reveals that the growing political violence and intolerance in the country is putting the hard won peace and stability under serious threat, which has the tendency to create chaos and anarchy which will cause untold suffering, deaths and loss of properties.
According to the evidence collected by the Civil Society Movement it suggest that the special body guard to the president Idrisa Kamara nick named Leather Boot and the APC task force member Foday Mansaray also nick named Foday Government Wharf, were instrumental in leading the mob to loot, rape, and cause mayhem, at the SLPP office Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown.
The report also reveals that “if it is true that the Mayor ignored the advice of AIG Chris Charley on the 13th March 2009 by continuing to process along the route with his supporters then Civil Society is of the opinion that the behavior of Mayor Herbert Williams was irresponsible and provocative.”
The Civil Society also believes that the response of the Sierra Leone Police to the crisis on both the 13th and 16th March 2009 at the SLPP office was grossly inadequate clarifying that there are numerous witnesses and video evidence which testify that on both days the police observed the violence and yet did very little to have prevented it.
The report reveals that giving the proximity of three police stations to the scene of the crisis it is unfathomable as to how the situation escalated and the civil society is seriously concerned that on the 16th of march 2009 the arrival on the scene of Leather Boot and the men in black was apparently in two police vans.
The report also highlighted that the police firing of tear gas in to the SLPP Building, the threat to burn down the building containing non rioters and the manhandling of victims of violence from within the SLPP building witnessed on the video clip contrasts to the absence of action against the rioters, which suggests a lack of neutrality. At the very least it points to a failure in police training and serious indiscipline.
The report also made some recommendations which include a thorough investigation of the events on and leading up to 13th and 16th March 2009, to take place speedily due to the apparent police involvement, investigations should be conducted by a judicial commission, independent of the police, and those found responsible for causing the events including the police should be held accountable.
International community especially development partners to provide capacity building support to political parties for effective internal management of parties, and there is a need for a two days of prayers and fasting, Government to support all victims of rape.
The Sierra Leone Police to apologize for failing to protect lives and properties, an urgent national dialogue forum and President Koroma to take a true posture of statesmanship and promote the rule of law without favor.
During the presentation of the report at the British Council Auditorium Festus Minah, George ColeridgeTaylor ,Bockarie EnsahM, Agnes Abu made similar statements towards moving the country forward, good governance and respect for Human Rights.
Close to the end of the report presentation the Auditorium was almost empty, as SLPP executives walked out unnoticed with anger frustration and disappointment, notably among them was the SLPP Women’s leader Isatu Jabie Kabba, they however refused to make a comment to the Press.
Another drama ensued between a man claiming to be civil society member and the organizers of the report presentation over an allege biasness of the report for failing to take in to account all that was necessary in the investigation without the consent of the general membership of the Civil Society Movement before publishing the report.