Sierra Leone Telegraph: June 21, 2022:
Popular Sierra Leonean musician, Alhaji Amadu Bah aka LAJ who was arrested and had his dreadlocks cut by police in Freetown, appeared in the Pademba Road Court No 1, Freetown yesterday June 20, 2022 to answer a charge of four counts, including; three counts of theft with violence contrary to section 23(1)b of the Robbery Act 1916 as repealed and replaced by section 2 of Act No 16 of 1971 and assault causing actual bodily harm contrary to section 47 of the Offenses Against the Person Act 1861.
According to details of the offence, LAJ on Sunday, June 12, 2022 at Leonco Fuel Station, Main Road, Congo Cross in the Judicial District of Freetown in the Western Region of the Republic of Sierra Leone, with the intention of stealing, robbed Francess Wilson of the sum of two million ninety thousand Leones in Sierra Leonean currency and, immediately after this robbery, used personal violence against Francess Wilson.
Chief Presiding Magistrate Sahr E. Kekura granted access to the LAJ and ordered medical treatment at the request of his lawyers.
LAJ was represented in court by a battery of lawyers headed by MP Mami who applied for bail under section 79(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 1965.
The case was prosecuted by State’s Attorney, YI Sesay, who vehemently opposed bail on the grounds that the offenses with which Defendant LAJ is charged in court are very serious offenses. serious and that he will not only interfere with the state’s witnesses, but that he will skip bail.
Magistrate Kekura refused bail and adjourned the hearing until tomorrow Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
Meanwhile, the country’s Human Rights Commission yesterday issued the following press release on the treatment of LAJ by the police. Here is what they said:
“The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) is the statutory body charged with protecting and promoting the human rights of all in the country, regardless of the circumstances or beliefs of a person. individual. Through its daily scrutiny of mainstream and emerging media, the HRCSL has followed with great concern the recent encounter between the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and a certain Alhaji Amadu Bah alias LAJ (hereafter referred to as LAJ) which began at a gas station. at Congo Cross and ended up at Up-Gun in Freetown where LAJ was arrested on June 12, 2022. Video footage showing clips of the incident shows LAJ having altercations with police while another voice in the vehicle was heard in an explosion of diatribes and insults.
“On June 16, 2022, the HRCSL received a complaint from Mr. Ibrahim Bah, father of one Alhaji Amadu Bah alias LAJ alleging that his four sons, including LAJ, were arrested and detained at the OSD headquarters, Brookfields, Freetown. He further alleged that they were denied access to family visits, access to legal representation and that they were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, among other things.
“The Commission conducted a preliminary investigation and went to engage the police and assess the conditions in which the suspects were being held. The Commission was denied access to the facility and the suspects. The Commission later learned that twelve (12) suspects were brought to trial in connection with this case on allegations of disorderly behavior and other public order offences, but did not appear before a magistrate. . The HRCSL engaged the twelve (12) suspects at the court premises in Pademba Road and they alleged that they were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, torture and abuse by the police while in detention at the headquarters. of the OSD, aka Benghazi.
“Through a press release dated June 18, 2022, the SLP confirmed that LAJ has been arrested and is in custody on felony allegations; that his head was shaved like all other suspects who pass through the detention center where the suspect is being held as part of standard operating procedure (SOP); and that all rights of the suspect will be fully respected while in custody.
“The HRCSL notes that since this incident occurred, social media has been flooded with unwarranted and inflammatory material, many of which amount to ethnic fanaticism which has the potential to ruin the peace and security of our beloved nation.
“In light of the above, the HRCSL would like to make the following statements;
• The HRCSL condemns the action of the Police who refused access to the Commission and to the lawyers of the said suspect. The Commission hereby reminds the SLP that it is a statutory body mandated by Section 9 of the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission Act 2004, which states as follows; “A member of the Commission or any person so authorized by that member shall have access to all government offices, installations and places of detention, including prisons, police cells, remand prisons and correctional facilities. probation, in order to investigate a violation of human rights. matter initiated by the Commission or brought to the attention of the Commission as well as access to any unclassified information contained in government documents”.
• The SLP, in its press release, cited that a certain SOP is applied in the detention center where the suspects were detained. It states that: “All male suspects taken to this facility would have their heads shaved while in custody of the detention center”, without referring to any laws supporting such a “modus operandi”. The HRCSL considers such attire to be unlawful and that its practices in this case constitute degrading and inhumane treatment contrary to Article 20 (1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone which states: “No one shall be subjected to any form of torture or to any other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
The HRCSL further notes that the shaving of detainees should be consistent with self-respect and for the purposes of the good appearance of the person so detained, in accordance with rule 18(2) of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of detained. [also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules] under Personal Hygiene which states the following:
In order for prisoners to maintain a good appearance compatible with self-esteem, facilities must be provided for the care of hair and beards, and men must be able to shave regularly.
The HRCSL therefore condemns the act of the SLP to shave its suspects in custody who, in fact, have not yet been tried without consent and without considerations of personal hygiene, as required by the Nelson Mandela Rules.
• That the general public, especially social media bloggers, are called upon to use social media productively and that, while the Commission fully assists citizens to exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed in Section 25(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 (Act No. 6 of 1991) (hereinafter referred to as the “Constitution”) however, any speech or expression or material which is likely to create disturbance and affect the enjoyment of other rights by peaceful and law-abiding citizens cannot be supported by the Commission. The HRCSL strongly abhors lawlessness and defends and promotes patriotism and respect for the rule of law in accordance with Article 13, paragraphs (b) and (j) of the Constitution which provides the following;
Every citizen should: (b) cultivate a sense of nationalism and patriotism so that loyalty to the state prevails over sectoral, ethnic, tribal or other loyalties;
(j) assist appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.
• HRCSL would like to encourage LAJ that as an artist with a large audience, mainly young people, he should always ensure that he behaves like a role model and should speak out against anti-social behavior that sometimes brings his fans into conflict with the law.
HRCSL notes that ethnic ranting is an offense under Section 52(1)(b) and (c) of the Cybersecurity and Crime Act 2021 and as such citizens should refrain .
1. The HRCSL requests the SLP to immediately bring before the Court Alhaji Amadu Bah alias LAJ and 12 others without further delay to have their day in court, in accordance with Section 17(3) paragraphs (a) & (b) ) product below for convenience:
“Any person who is arrested or detained in a case referred to in subparagraph (e) or (f) of subsection (1) and who is not released shall be brought before a court —
(a) within ten days from the date of arrest in the case of capital offences, offenses involving life imprisonment and economic and environmental offences; and (b) within seventy-two hours of his arrest for other offences; »
Article 9(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) reinforces this position of the law.
2. The HRCSL hereby requests the SLP/OSD unhindered access to the detention facility at the OSD Headquarters in order to inspect it and engage the persons detained therein to verify whether the facility meets reasonable standards and is not a torture chamber; or alternatively, that the facility be dissolved forthwith.
3. The HRCSL also calls on the public to refrain from spreading inflammatory and inciting messages that may cause tension and unrest.
4. The HRCSL hereby reminds citizens and the SLP of the call by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that demands “a new culture of mutual respect, understanding and tolerance by all Sierra Leoneans for all Sierra Leoneans…and that Sierra Leoneans deserve “…professional, disciplined and representative security forces. (Paragraphs 37 and 198 respectively of Vol. Two, Chapter Three of the TRC Report).
HRCSL takes this opportunity to assure the general public of its unwavering commitment to the protection and promotion of the human rights of all in Sierra Leone.