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The recent outbreak of violence in Bumbuna, Tonkolili District

The recent outbreak of violence in Bumbuna, Tonkolili District

Freetown, 23rd April 2012: The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) views with great concern the recent events in Bumbuna Town, Kalasongoia Chiefdom, Tonkolili District, following a protest action by aggrieved workers of the African Minerals Ltd (AML), which has led to the death of one person and the injury of 17 others, including 8 police personnel and 9 civilians.  It is alleged that the Sierra Leone Police personnel who were deployed in the township employed disproportionate use of force to maintain law and order.

Without prejudice to any further action by the Commission on this incident, HRCSL is particularly worried at this systemic trend of reports of the disproportionate use of force by the police in quelling protest actions by civilians when the past events in Lunsar, Kono, Bo and Lungi are recalled.

HRCSL would like to remind Government of its primary responsibility to ensure that the human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and international instruments to which Sierra Leone is a party, are protected and respected. In maintaining peace and security and addressing threats to public order, it is essential for state actors especially the police to act in accordance with care, restraint and professionalism using force only as the last resort and avoid the use of firearms which is generally considered to be an extreme measure.

While the Commission notes efforts by the Government, civil society and other actors in quelling down tempers, with a view to resolving the conflict, the Commission remains seriously seized of this matter as initial HRCSL investigations into the incident suggest that human rights violations may have occurred.

Meanwhile, the Commission wishes to use this opportunity to urge all members of the public including employees of AML to be law abiding and refrain from taking the law into their own hands.

The SLP are particularly urged to exercise maximum restraint in such situations should they reoccur in future.  In addition, the Commission wishes to use this opportunity to urge the SLP to be cautious when releasing information on incidents of this nature to the public, as any conflicting information has the potential to erode public confidence in them.

The Commission extends condolences to the bereaved family and friends of the late Musu A. Conteh who unfortunately lost her life during the incident, and sympathises with those who sustained injuries and/or lost property.

Commissioner Rev. Moses Khanu
Commissioner Jamesina King

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