18th March 2018
Human Rights Sierra Leone Optimistic that March 7 Elections will be Very Peaceful!
By a press release (07/03/18)
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone is cautiously hopeful that political parties will observe peaceful elections today.
But the commission is also concerned about the blatant disregard of the campaign time table set out by The National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (NEC). (Photo: NGC leader Dr. Kandeh Yumkella voting live this morning).
During its monitoring and community engagement activities on human rights and elections in the regions, the Commission observed that supporters of various political parties were unaware of their scheduled days for rallies and as a result, were seen to be coming out for rallies on days not allocated to them by NEC.
HRCSL blames the leadership of the political parties who might not have widely disseminated the campaign time table to their supporters especially in the regions and further ensure strict adherence to the same. HRCSL therefore condemns the current spate of violence, hate speech, political intolerance, inciteful and inflammatory languages by various political actors on the media and other fora.
The Commission therefore calls on all political leaders and their supporters to denounce violence and promote political tolerance and reframe from the negative use of the media during the campaign period.
HRCSL particularly reminds government of its obligations to maintain peace and security and therefore calls on the Sierra Leone Police to execute their work with a deep sense of cosmic responsibility during this period and to provide adequate security for all Presidential aspirants as they carry out their campaigns.
There are many fundamental human rights that are currently under threat during this election period including:
• Right to freedom of assembly and association
• Right to freedom of movement
• Right to freedom of expression and the press
• Right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention
It is the duty of the state to ensure that all of these rights are enjoyed by citizens in the state and where any limitation is to be exercised, such must satisfy the four tier limitation test under international law. In other words, any limitations of rights must be based on legality, reasonability, justifiability and necessity in a democratic society.
HRCSL further calls on all media practitioners and institutions particularly those aligned to political parties to be responsible, refrain from the use of hate speeches and inflammatory publications, adhere to the IMC media code of conduct and to educate the public to refrain from elections related violence. We therefore call on all media practitioners to give voice to all shades of opinion in their newspapers and over their radio and TV stations during the electioneering process.
With barely two weeks to elections, HRCSL calls on all citizens to conduct themselves responsibly within the rule of law,. display political tolerance and immense respect for the fundamental human rights of each other so that a peaceful environment will be ensured for a successful election on March 7,2018.
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone remains committed to building a culture of respect for human rights within the nation of Sierra Leone and will continue to monitor the process.
Courtesy: Signed, Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah, Chairperson