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CSO Slams Unlawful Detention of Journalist, Others

CSO Slams Unlawful Detention of Journalist, Others

The Citizens Advocacy Network (CAN), a civil society organization regarded as one of the few voices of the people has raised concerns over the continuous detention of a female journalist and opposition politician, Dr. Sylvia Blyden and many others at the Criminal Investigations Department way beyond the constitutionally stipulated time frame.

In a letter dated Wednesday 13th May, 2020 addressed to the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, CAN called on the police chief to use his office to ensure that Dr Sylvia Blyden and all other citizens who were arrested and have extended the stipulated period of detention be charged to court or granted bail pursuant to provisions of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

While condemning violence and disorderly conduct in the strongest terms, the Civil Society Organization further condemns  the flagrant abrogation of basic human rights of citizens and slumber gear mode of processes and procedures of Law that do not present the state as one that abides by, or is guided by its law and order serenade.

According to CAN in its letter to the police chief, extant provisions of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone safeguard the fundamental human rights of citizens even when they are alleged to have committed a crime.

The constitution, the letter furthers, grants the Police only three days (72 hours) to investigate allegations or offences of misdemeanors and charge to court; and ten (10) days in investigating capital offences and economic and environmental offences and do same citing Section 17 subsection 3 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone, the supreme law of the land which states thus:

“Any person who is arrested or detained… and who is not released shall be brought before a court of law:

a) Within ten days from the date of arrest in cases of *capital offences carrying life imprisonment* and *economic and environmental offences*

b) Within *72 hours* of his arrest in case of other offences.

CAN therefore urges the police boss to adhere to the supreme laws of the land and charge or grant bail to the many citizens in their custody whose investigation and detention have tipped the required duration stipulated by law.

‘’The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report seriously scolded such oversight actions of the police as reasons for fomenting discontent and eroding confidence in such an important institution of State.’’ The letter stated adding the independence of State institutions helps the deepening of our democracy and boosts citizens trust and confidence in relying on them for dispensing justice, equity and the rule of law.

CAN also urges that persons in custody undergoing investigation are treated in a humane manner. The Network has learnt that some detainees at the Criminal Investigations Department have been exposed to degrading human treatment and at some occasions even torture. This is contrary to section 20 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone. We call for better actions.

Finally, the Citizens Advocacy Network further reminded the Police Chief’s role at such a time in our history in bandaging the fragility of our democracy by acting independently and respecting laid down constitutional provisions.

‘’This country needs your show of impartiality now more than ever ’’, CAN concluded.

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