SLAJ to sue two presidential bodyguards
Freetown – The membership of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, in a general meeting on Thursday 8 December 2011, unanimously agreed to seek legal action against two members of the Presidential Bodyguards who beat up four journalists on Saturday 3 September 2011 at the National Stadium during an international football match.
The decision to go to court follows a failed bid by the association for the Office of the President to set up an independent panel led by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone to investigate the matter since the police internal complaint committee was clearly biased in favour of its officers.
In a letter to President Ernest Bai Koroma, SLAJ had also cited a compromising comment made by the Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu on the matter apparently defending one of the two plain-clothed policemen, as well as antecedent events involving the police and journalists.
“We are convinced beyond all reasonable doubts that the Sierra Leone Police are not serious in bringing their members to justice as evident in the behaviour and utterances of the Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu as well as outstanding issues,” says SLAJ President Umaru Fofana. He goes on that “There is no justice guaranteed where police officers, all by themselves, investigate the actions of their colleague police officers especially when the suspect works as a presidential guard.”
The association is gravely concerned that two bodyguards have not even been suspended from the ranks of the force to allow for proper investigations of the matter.
Meanwhile SLAJ members also expressed concern that several months since journalist Ibrahim Foday was murdered, the police are yet to take concrete actions in bringing to justice the killers. A police officer suspected to have aided and abetted the killing was released without explanation shortly after his arrest. The suspected killer has not been arrested. SLAJ will soon announce its position and steps it plans to take to get justice in this matter.
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