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Press Release – Sierra Leone Govt White Paper on Shears-Moses Commission Report

Press Release – Sierra Leone Govt White Paper on Shears-Moses Commission Report

Sierra Leone Government Press Release re Government White Paper on Shears-Moses Commission Report

The Government of Sierra Leone today (23 March, 2012) publicized its reaction to the report of the Shears-Moses Commission of Inquiry in a special Government White-Paper signed by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo.

The Shears-Moses Commission of Inquiry was set up by the Government of Sierra Leone to investigate matters related to the political violence and intolerance exhibited in Gendema and Pujehun in the Southern Province, Tongo Field in the East, and Freetown.

The Government White-Paper acknowledges incidents of political violence and intolerance that occurred during the month of March, 2009, and the Government emphasizes the leadership roles and responsibilities of political parties, law enforcement agencies and other persons in ensuring peace and concord within the political environment.

The President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has received the Shears- Moses Commission report and is also satisfied that a White-Paper put together by his own Government has been made public. The President’s point of emphasis even in the wake of the publication of the Shears -Moses report and the Government White-Paper centers around his belief and determination to ensure that State institutions including the Police, the Political Parties Registration Commission and the National Electoral Commission be allowed to perform their statutory functions without undue interference from members of the public, even if they are politicians.

The President further emphasizes his commitment to both the citizens of Sierra Leone and the international community to provide impartial leadership in his efforts to promote the culture of political tolerance and political inclusion.

The Government is also determined to ensure that the incidents of violence that characterized the actions of some politicians in March, 2009 should never be allowed again to reoccur.

In an effort to promote political honesty, the Government has accepted a good number of recommendations made by the Shears-Moses Commission report, including putting in place mechanisms to promote an effective political educational system in Sierra Leone. In this vein, Government has accepted the need to organize workshops and seminars to encourage the security forces to understand the relationship between their operations and the need to recognize the rights of the citizen, and also for them to perform their duties impartially. The Government is of the view that politicians across the political spectrum in the country should promote the culture of peaceful political contest and should display respect for the opinions of others.

The Government is aware of the role traditional rulers should play, as such rulers should at all times provide the necessary vehicle for restraint and should be neutral in the politics of the State. The Government is aware of the fact that the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and the National Electoral Commission (NEC), should provide the necessary leadership in ensuring that free and fair elections are conducted.

Government is also aware of the role the PPRC has played to help eradicate political intolerance, just as the print and electronic media must be seen as vital and neutral components in the political process if political intolerance and violence are to be minimized.

The Government White-Paper has also addressed the role that is expected of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and other institutions. The Government also condemns violence and takes great exception to the development which seems to suggest that some people are exploiting the youth of this country for negative political purposes.

Government has also taken into consideration the recommendation made by the Shears-Moses Commission of Inquiry calling for the banning of citizens from holding political office. The Government in its White-Paper reminded the public that there is no provision, apart from those stipulated by law, which prevents citizens from holding public office. Therefore, the White-Paper reminds the public that the Mayor of Freetown, Herbert George-Williams, who was elected by popular mandate for four years, cannot by administrative means be removed from office. The Government has also stated in its White-Paper that the recommendation suggesting the removal of the erstwhile Resident Minister of the South, Mr. Musa Tarawallie, from office has been noted. Government assures the public that appropriate action will be taken in due course in that regard.

A recommendation made by the Commission for disciplinary action to be taken against particular members of the Sierra Leone Police, namely Mohamed Turay (alias Yete Yete) and Idrissa Kamara (alias Leather-boot) has been noted. Matters relating to these officers are being referred to the Police Council for disciplinary action.

According to Police Council rules, Idrissa Kamara whose rank is that of a Sergeant can be directly disciplined by the Inspector General of Police, while Mohamed Turay will be handled by the Police Council.

Government accepts the recommendation of the Commission that holders of public office, especially the security, who betray public trust and behave unprofessionally should be disciplined to serve as a deterrent.

President Koroma has said in Freetown that his determination to preside over a civilized political culture and his determination to give all citizens an opportunity to freely participate in the political process will never waiver. He has advised members of political parties to provide leadership among their followers to avoid unacceptable spates of political violence.

President Ernest Bai Koroma holds the view that the respectability earned by Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans, in the area of promoting a transparent electoral system should, at all times, be maintained. The President accepts the Shears-Moses Commission report as a contribution to his efforts to inculcate a transparent and non-violent political system. He further states that, political discipline should always be seen as a hallmark of an acceptable political culture, while he assures members of the public and the international community that his Government will always fight against political intolerance and violence.

The President thanked Commissioner Shears-Moses and the other Commissioners, who presided over the compilation of a historic document that will serve to bring all Sierra Leoneans closer in one family unit.

23RD MARCH 2012

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