16th December 2018
SLPP, Blair & Dubious Killing of 24 Soldiers as Human Rights Visit 3 Military Detainees!
By Awareness Times (23/11/18)
Human rights officers in Sierra Leone were only given access to three detained officers on Wednesday, despite being in prison for months.
A historical and contemporary analytic commentary by Awareness Times Editorial Board published a succinctly and well researched article yesterday which theorganiser.net newspaper is delighted to reproduce today for the benefit of our readers. (Photo: Tony Blair and the late Kofi Annan, both opposed the extrajudicial executions). Following is the verbatim Awareness Times newspaper publication:
This newspaper's attention has been drawn to a November 21st 2018 joint press release from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) headed by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio as the Minister of Defence and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) which has President Bio as their Commander-In-Chief. The release concerns the continued detention of Captain Patrick Kamara and two military officers detained since June this year for period now of almost 160 days. It is a fact that this very credible Awareness Times Newspaper which currently has a woman, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden as one of our editorial consultants, has been championing the cause for justice and human rights of the detained men.
Now, in a very threatening tone, the MOD/RSLAF release yesterday cites an un-named "media outlet" giving coverage to detention of Captain Patrick Kamara. However, what is even more sinister is the thinly veiled threat in Paragraph 6 of the release from President Maada Bio's MOD/RSLAF team against an unidentified woman they simply describe as "HER" and whom they have now thrown an open challenge at.
Neither the media outlet nor the woman described as “HER” has been named by the MOD/RSLAF but many Sierra Leoneans around the world have been calling on the MOD/RSLAF to develop the testicular fortitude to clearly identify the media outlet as well as the woman who has been merely termed as "HER". There is major concern by many over why the Sierra Leone military and the Bio-led Ministry of Defence should be making such dangerous inferences against an unidentified female citizen and an unidentified media outlet.
Nevertheless, this newspaper has published the said press release on Page 3 of today's edition. We have also published an earlier press release from the same MOD/RSLAF dated July 12th 2018. The gross inconsistencies in comparison of the two releases are quite glaring. In July, Lt. Col. S.T. Sesay was impugned for not adhering to the summons to immediately return home from the AU. Now, in November, the same MOD/RSLAF chaps want us to believe they have always been proud of Lt. Col. S.T. Sesay.
Ady Macauley Esq., the lawyer for the detained military officers has already exposed other lies inside the November 21st 2018 Joint Press Release including the unconstitutional manner in which he was denied free access to his clients and how he was granted only 20 minutes under controlled circumstances; all contrary to international and local laws on lawyer-client confidential discussions. The erudite lawyer has also reminded the MOD/RSLAF that it is an offense under Section 56 of the RSLAF Act of 1961 (as Amended) to cause a needlessly prolonged detention of a military officer.
Meanwhile, this newspaper can authoritatively inform that it was only yesterday November 21st 2018 that the Ministry of Defence and RSLAF finally allowed staff of the currently-dysfunctional Human Rights Commission access to the detained officers at the place where they have been confined like animals in a cage. The human rights officers who visited the men yesterday afternoon and saw the horrific living conditions under which the men are being kept detained are Mr. Typhus Williams, Ms. Sonia Goodman and Ms. Sidratu Kargbo. The press release from the military is therefore misleading when it gives the impression as if human rights officers had been checking on the officers prior to yesterday. (Photo: The three soldiers who are presently languishing in detention).
There are many other aspects of the MOD/RSLAF release which are not true but since the MOD/RSLAF press release has not been bold enough to name the media outlet or the WOMAN they have thrown the challenge at, this newspaper will pause further analysis of the Press Release until the said authorities develop the testicular fortitude to name and identify whom the challenge has been thrown for. At which point, we will further engage the MOD/RSLAF.
However, we want to today use this chance to discuss the SLPP with regards their relationship with the Military. The SLPP has a History with the military that is not a good history and it is therefore of concern to all right-thinking persons when SLPP, under the leadership of President Bio, starts to maltreat serving military officers like Captain Patrick Kamara and others. President Bio himself has a very dubious History that is well-documented inside the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report with respect to him having collective responsibility for extra-judicial, cold-blooded and vicious killing of un-armed military heroes like Colonel Yaya Kanu and other military men.
It was under the SLPP on October 19th 1998 that 24 Military Officers including a female officer, got slaughtered in one day after a Court Martial that was deemed dubious and questionable by all right-thinking persons around the world including the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, Rt. Hon. Tony Blair. Since Tony Blair is currently visiting Sierra Leone, it is good for us to reminisce on those dark days during his ongoing visit.
Back then in October 1998, the maltreatment of the military by that SLPP-led Government shocked Tony Blair so much and hurt him so deeply especially as some of the military men executed in defiance against international law, were war heroes who had risked their lives for Sierra Leone on the battlefields.
Here follows some reports from our Historical Archives of that period:
19TH OCTOBER 1998: British government of Prime Minister Tony Blair has condemned Monday's execution of 24 military officers in Sierra Leone. Foreign Office Minister of State for Africa Tony Lloyd said the Sierra Leone President had rejected his personal telephone appeals for clemency. "I regret that 24 executions have been carried out in Sierra Leone following military courts martial," Lloyd said in a statement. "I hope these executions will be the last in Sierra Leone," he added
Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay, who is a member of Foreign Affairs Committee investigating Sandline "Arms to Africa Affair", called the executions "deeply worrying." He called for a full Foreign Office statement on when Tony Blair’s Government knew the sentences were to be carried out and what representations had been made on behalf of the condemned. "This is deplorable. We were assured that President Kabbah -- who has received support from Britain and was endorsed by Tony Blair who actually said `the good guys won' -- ran a democratic government," he said. "It raises grave questions as to the government's claim to be a democracy."
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed concern that those sentenced to death had no legal right of appeal. "I urge the Sierra Leone Government, at a minimum, to consider a stay of execution of sentences pending review of the proceedings before relevant international monitoring bodies," Annan said but he was ignored by SLPP-led government who went on to kill officers.
The international human rights monitoring group Human Rights Watch expressed "outrage" over execution of 24 soldiers, which were carried out only three days after the group had appealed to President Kabbah to commute the sentences. "The decision to carry out the death sentences without the basic right to appeal is extremely disappointing," said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "This will not sow the seeds of national reconciliation nor help to establish a state based on respect of international human rights standards." (Photo: Late President Tejan Kabbah, left, and former President Ernest Koroma).
20TH OCTOBER 1998: The London-based human rights group Amnesty International (AI) has "deplored" the execution of 34 soldiers sentenced to death in connection with last year's military coup after what AI termed an "unfair trial". "These executions violate Sierra Leone’s international human rights commitments and will do nothing to contribute to the process of reconciliation in Sierra Leone," AI said in a statement issued on Tuesday. The statement stressed that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by President Kabbah's government in 1996, "Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law." Under the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, to which Sierra Leone is a party, individuals may have recourse to the United Nations Human Rights Committee where rights have been violated. Applications on behalf of 18 of the condemned had been submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, AI said. END OF NEWS FROM THE HISTORICAL ARCHIVES.
Courtesy: Awareness Times Newspaper, Thursday 22nd November 2018
Ministry of Defence Clarifies the Detention of three Soldiers in Connection with Lost Weapons
By a press release (23/11/18)
The three military personnel are being held under open detention as they can freely move within the custodial centre, latest reports say.
In a belated press statement from the Ministry of Defence issued on November 21, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces confirmed the detention of Captain Patrick Kamara and two other military officers in connection with the ongoing arms and ammunation investigations. The press release dated 21 November 2018, Issue No. 2 reads:
1. For the past four weeks, the MoD/RSLAF has followed some inaccurate and misleading stories making rounds in a particular media outlet about the DETENTION of Captain Patrick Kamara, Warrant Officer Class 1 Samuel Conteh and Warrant Officer Class 2 Abu Bakarr Jalloh. (Photo: President Bio and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces).
2. The MoD/RSLAF would, therefore, like the public to know that the continued detention of these military personnel has been necessitated pursuant to Section 77 (2) of the RSLAF Act of 1961 (As amended). This statutory provision states that if a soldier remains in custody for a longer period than eight days without trial by a court martial, a special report should be made on the necessity for further delay, and at every eight days, a similar report should be also made until the soldier is arraigned before the court martial for trial. Hence, as persons subject to military law, the three military personnel are still being held at the custodial centre in accordance with the said provision.
3. The MoD/RSLAF would also like the public to know that all the three military personnel are being held under open detention, and as such they can freely move within the confines of the custodial centre. They have never been transferred to the Pademba Road Prisons, where in 2013, Private Momoh Kargbo and 13 other military personnel (who were accused of mutiny at Teko Barracks in Makeni) were placed behind bars under lock and key with hard core criminals for almost two years. Even though the alleged mutineers were later set free, their placement behind bars with hard core criminals affected their dignity. Thus, under the current military leadership, the MoD/RSLAF would like to keep all the military personnel at the custodial centre while they are being investigated and tried by a court martial.
4. The MoD/RSLAF would further like the public to know that Captain Patrick Kamara and the two others have never been denied access to their family members, lawyers and human right organizations. On daily basis, their family members visit and talk with them. Recently, one of their lawyers, Ady Macauley (the former ACC Commissioner) also visited and spoke with them. Again, the Human Rights Commission has also been permitted to make similar visit to the military personnel. The MoD/RSLAF is encouraging LEGITIMATE individuals and human rights organizations to request for permission, through the chain of command, for such visit to the military personnel at the custodial centre.
5. Most importantly, the MoD/RSLAF would like the public to know that since the retirement of the former President in April this year, all the military personnel that were part of his security detail have never been dismissed, arrested and detained in contrast to what is falsely reported by a particular newspaper. However, they have all been re-assigned to other posts. For instance, Lieutenant Colonel Sheku Tejan Sesay (who first served as Officer Commanding the former President’s security detail and later as ADC to the former President) is currently working at the AU Headquarters as Military Operations Officer. Besides, Colonel Paul Koroma (who last served as ADC to the former President) is now appointed as Director of Training and Education.All the other military personnel are currently working in various units and formations across the country.
6. In addition the MoD/RSLAF would like the public to know that former President Koroma was a legitimate Commander-in-Chief of RSLAF and Minister of Defence and as such all the military personnel that served him and carried out their jobs devoid of unlawful actions have never been brought to book. Thus, not anyone of them has ever been arrested and detained contrary to what is criminally published. However, the MoD/RSLAF challenges the media practitioner stating this falsehood to produce her evidence.
7. However, the MoD/RSLAF would like to remind the public that Captain Kamara and the two others are only being detained and investigated for an apparent disappearance of a large cache of ammunition and some arms, which they had allegedly signed for, collected and kept while working in the former President’s security detail. The MoD/RSLAF believes that the disappearance of such ammunition and weaponry poses serious threat to national security.
8. The MoD/RSLAF would, further, like to inform the public that the investigations into the matter have been concluded and the appropriate legal advice has been proffered. Currently, plans are underway for the resumption of the Court Martial to try the offences that will be proffered against all the three military personnel.
9. The MoD/RSLAF would like to assure the public that these military personnel would be given a fair trial as nobody is passionate in wanting them to be held liable unjustifiably for the disappearance of the arms and ammunition. However, the Court Martial would prove their innocence or guilt.
For further inquiry, please contact the following:
1. Brigadier General Alhassan Bangura, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff for Public Relations and Information and Defence Spokesman, Phone/WhatsApp: +232 76 625 673
2. Captain Yayah Brima, Acting Staff Officer Grade 2, Phone/WhatsApp: +23278 452 876
Courtesy: MOD Press release.