Renaissance Movement Calls For Ban of Benghazi And Boss La’s Immediate Release

One of the Civil Society Organi zations (CSOs) in the country, the Renaissance Movement (RM) has in a letter written to the Inspector General of Police raised concern, stating that the Sierra Leone Po lice (SLP) have used unnecessary, excessive, and malicious force on music artist, Alhaji Amadu Bah, aka LAJ, by forcefully shaving off his dreadlocks while in the custody for alleged robbery. According to RM’s letter, the movement is gravely disturbed about the ongoing wave of dis sents in which Sierra Leoneans have directed their frustration, discomfort, and outrage against the existing patterns of police brutality and the urgent and inter connected need for justice for citizens in police custody.

The Movement’s letter also noted that LAJ was stopped, arrested, and taken into custody for alleged robbery while driving in the eastend of Freetown on Sunday, 12th June 2022.

Excerpt of the letter further maintained that despite multiple requests from relatives and his Lawyers, LAJ has been detained by police and deprived of food
and fundamental sanitation. The letter stated that five days after his confinement, an SLP press release confirmed rumours on social media that the police completely shaved off LAJ’s dread locks.

The letter which was issued out before he was charged to court also states that LAJ was not charged with a crime but was held in custody at the Holding Center. This, the movement said, has further illuminated the well-founded public outcry on the persistent issues of violent policing and denial or delay of justice for citizens.

According to RM, the detention of LAJ in an unknown “Holding Center Custody” from which he has no access to his lawyers and relatives violates his constitutional rights. RM letter reiterates further that holding anyone incommunicado violates international human rights standards and the 1991 Constitution, which provides that accused persons should have
dignity in this manner.

It reflects the failure of the Sierra Leone Police and correctional authorities to provide humane and safe conditions of confine mentioned for citizens.

According to the RM letter, the act by Sierra Leone Police emits a chilling effect for not only LAJ but other citi zens who may be in conflict with the law. The RM notes that the blatant disregard for LAJ’s fundamental human rights against torture cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment is alarming to the sensitivity of the 21 century citizen of Sierra Leone.

The RM therefore urged the leadership of the Sierra Leone Police to: 1 Unconditionally grant LAJ access to his lawyers and family

2 Conduct a thorough investigation into the unwarranted and questionable use of force in cutting LAJ’S dreadlocks and take im mediately disciplinary measures against officers who violated the sound use of force policies that are enforced through the Sierra Leone Police training.

3 Ensure that LAJ undergoes a medical and psychological evaluation to ascertain that nothing unpleasant has happened to him while in custody.

Re-evaluate or expunge the existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) or shave policy as it violates the grooming standards of citizens in confinement.

5. Grant human rights organizations immediate access to the infamous Beghazi holding center to ascertain the conditions of detainees.

6 Release a commitment statement from your office on a clearly define timeline for addressing the above concerns

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