A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
March 7, 2016
Your Excellency Sir,
I write this edition with a level of joy and much commendation for your most honourable self. This is because on Thursday, 03 March, Mr. Umaru Fofana, (the Sierra Leone BBC Reporter,) mentioned for the very first time your dissatisfaction over the “Land Investment/Land Leasehold Policy” of Sierra Leone; coupled with your appointment of a body to review same, in order to reflect the current plights and disaffection of the local communities/land owners across the country. Even though this move is well overdue, it is said, “better late than never.” And that is given the fact that it is a perennial problem inherited from four or five previous governments. Let me also hasten to commend Umaru Fofana for objectively and relentlessly following through this and several other issues on the worldwide BBC news outlet. Do keep up the good job for the betterment of Sierra Leone and her emerging democracy and economy.
One of my greatest concerns however, is that, as this problem has been age long, the process be expedited and policies that would be eventually reformulated be thoroughly examined in light of the current realities and aspirations of the aggrieved communities and the entire nation. I am highlighting this because, for the years I have lived in Sierra Leone, I have observed with disdain that most law makers and public servants often unduly protract law making/reforms that directly bother on national/common interest; as opposed to issues directly pertinent to their own welfare and operations, which they normally fast-track. They should not feel they are “doing favour” to these aggrieved communities; rather that, it is their legitimate responsibility to these communities and the nation, as law makers and public servants, who have been duly elected by, and/or are paid from the taxes of ordinary Sierra Leoneans, to represent their interests and serve them.
It is in this light too that I call upon both local and international rights advocates, (especially human, environmental, land, civil and labour rights activists and think-tanks,) to bear necessary pressure on government and these huge multi-national investments and conglomerates, in order to influence these policies towards current and updated popular interest. I would also ask for their intervention to advocate for and ensure the fair treatment and release of those community leaders/activists who had been incarcerated; and to ensure that dissatisfied local employees and communities be freely given their entrenched human and democratic rights to peacefully and constructively protest/demonstrate for their rights and/or privileges when they feel grossly ill-treated; without being cowed into subjugation through notorious and systemic heavy-handed police brutality.
Furthermore, moving in this right direction, I would request that your honourable self/office, the office of the Vice President, the Inspector General of Police, the relevant parliamentary committees, other human right and civil society actors urgently constitute an independent body to undertake an independent and comprehensive investigation into the numerous acts of “police brutality” meted out on armless and peaceful protesters, that led to the killing of over 10 Sierra Leoneans, especially between 2009 and 2015. This is in order to curb and eventually eradicate “police brutality with impunity” and prevent us from reverting into a “police state.” I would finally like to opine that, “those state personnel, who legitimately bear arms and have taken national oath to protect life and property, and as well maintain peace and order in society, should demonstrate great restraint” when engaging the civilians or be otherwise made to pay very dearly when they abuse such national/public security confidence.
Sir, in concluding, may I request your exigent consideration and intervention into these issues of serious national and security concern for the general peace and stability of our nation. LAND THAT WE LOVE OUR SIERRA LEONE.
Rev. Dr. Abraham J. Williams
(Clergyman/Human Rights Advocate)
Tel: (+232) 76 994 152 / (+231) 888 229 348/ (+231) 770 422 608