Rights activist worried Makeni killings may not be prosecuted
By AL MansaraY
(TV-News24) - A human rights campaigner says Monday he is concerned findings in an ongoing investigation by the police complaints board into reported killings of protesters by police in Makeni, north Sierra Leone might not be prosecuted.
Five people died and several others injured recently, after security forces responded to protests by residents who were unhappy with the intended transfer of a 1.6-megahertz generator to another town.
CEO Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) Abdul Fatoma says the complaint’s board does not have the authority to take legal action against people — but rather, depend on the Director of Public Prosecution’s office for prosecutions.
“Well, you cannot rely and trust police complaints board. The reason being that, they might be honest, but when the issue gets to the DPP office, it gets stuck there. Several investigations have gone by them, and they don’t have the prosecutorial power. And they refer it to DPP before actions,” Fatoma says.
In the aftermath of the killings, the police board issued a release stating they have instituted official investigations.
Regardless, Fatoma says, he is still skeptical that the subsequent findings of the complaints board would be of benefit to the people.
Especially, he says, the previous DPP — Sulaiman Bah — now an appeals court judge, did not take action against police officers after complaints have been filed against them.
“So, I might not say the current DPP will be the same. But, you know, my experience working in this country, I don’t trust the system,” Fatoma says.
The DPP is part of the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice.
But Deputy Minister of Justice Umaru Napoleon Koroma says it is speculative to try to cast doubts on any prospective actions by DPP — Easmon Ngakui, who was appointed last year.
“Can you wait for the findings to come up and see whether there’s any case for the public prosecution to prosecute… and refuse it. Before ever they start raising the issues?” Koroma says over the phone.
Koroma says until the findings come to the DPP’s office, there should not be any skepticism to any potential line of action — and that, he is sure there will be consequences on anyone found liable.
“If there is any wrongdoing against anybody, I’m very sure actions will be taken,” he says.
According to Fatoma, previous governments and the current, have always, almost, inextricably link issues of the public concern to politics.
“Because examples are bound that, you know, issues pertaining public interest have been compromised as long as it is not in the political interest. That has been the case throughout in this country,” he says.
It is not that he is trying to prejudice the complaints board investigations, but, Fatoma says, he is worried that after their findings “what use would it be to the citizens of this country? If it goes there and stuck again like the previous reports. So, what’s the essence?”