“Impunity unlawful killings by government agents and unlawful arrests were documented”, US State Department.
The US state department has lashed at Sierra Leone for several human rights abuses and violations in its 2020 human right country report. The report highlight several human right lapses committed by countries and their governments across the world in 2020.
On Sierra Leone, the state department highlighted series of human right concerns including unlawful and arbitrary killings by government agents, harsh prison conditions, serious act of corruption, unlawful arrests and detention and oppression against opposition supporters. For example; the riot break out in April 29 at the pademba road correctional center in Freetown which lead to 31 fatalities including a correction officer and 30 inmate and 32 correction officer, 21 inmate sustained with injuries from the live amination used by security officials.
Also in July, the report added that security forces allegedly killed individuals in Makeni who were protesting against the government’s relocation of a power generator and transformers from Makeni to Port Loko district to support the airport’s operations, using tear gas and live aminations in response to stop the protest.
Prison Conditions; the country’s 21 prisons designed to hold 2,375 inmates, held 3,808 as of August 2020. the most overcrowded was the male correctional center, designed to hold 324 inmates, which instead held 1,407 individuals as at that time. these lead to spread of sicknesses and death. according to the SLCS report, 53 prisoners in prison and detention facilities died from malaria, respiratory infections, skin infections, hypertension, kidney diseases, sickle cell disease and typhoid fever.
Arbitrary arrest and detention; the government allows the SLP to hold suspects in police detention without charge or explanation for 3 days for suspected misdemeanors and 10 days for suspected felonies. Campaign for Human Rights and Development International reported cases of illegal detention at several police stations and the Freetown male correctional center. Former Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s affairs, Sylvia Blyden was arrested and detained beyond the 72 hours legal limit provided by law for alleged libel offences involving social media posts critical of the government. she was bailed and rearrested for allegedly violating bail conditions.
Violence and Harassment; journalists were harassed and beaten up by Sierra Leone Armed Forces personnel in April and were charged with riotous conduct by the authorities. police uses excessive force when dealing with demonstrators and uses public order law to deny requests for protests and demonstrations.
Impunity and Minimum Wage; Impunity remained a significant problem in the security forces, notably in the sierra Leone police . observers noted that police lacked training on crowd control and on human right topic. whiles there are serious issues of the national minimum wage. there is no statutory definition of overtime wages to be paid if an employees work hours exceed.