Target: Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic
Goal: Free eight people being held in violation of national law.
Eight people remain illegally imprisoned with no trial or release dates in sight after Sierra Leone’s government declared a national state of emergency in response to the threat of Ebola. While in the state of emergency, a riot took place that resulted in the detention of nearly three dozen people under an Executive Order of Detention issued by President Koroma. Two women and six men remain imprisoned. Sign the petition and demand that the eight people be immediately charged with internationally-recognizable crimes or released.
None of the eight men and women arrested have been informed of the reasons for their detention or have been allowed to contest their imprisonment, Amnesty International reports. In fact, they have not even been interviewed by police, who say they have no jurisdiction over the cases since they were prompted by an executive order. AdvocaAid, a women’s rights organization, has written to President Koroma requesting the women’s release, but they have received no response. According to Amnesty International, the law in Sierra Leone mandates that any release request denied by the president must be sent to an independent tribunal for review within thirty days. So far, no action has been taken for any of the prisoners.
Sierra Leone is bound by its obligations to a number of human rights treaties and agreements, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which lays out very clear guidelines for fair trial practices. Sign the petition and demand that the president either release the eight detainees immediately or charge them with internationally-recognizable crimes so they may begin a legal defense process.
Dear President Koroma,
The new year has come and gone, and still eight people–six men and two women–remain languishing in prison following the Ebola panic-fueled riot in Kono. None of the eight have been charged with any crimes or even been questioned by police, and there is no release date in sight for a single one of them. It is up to you to ensure that these men and women detained under your orders are given fair treatment and due process under the law. I therefore urge you to either release them immediately or charge them with internationally-recognizable criminal offenses so that they may begin the process of mounting a legal defense.
According to Sierra Leone’s laws, any request for a prisoner’s release that is refused by the president must be sent to an independent tribunal within thirty days. AdvocAid, a women’s advocacy organization, sent you a release request for the two female prisoners recently and has yet to receive a response. Why has a tribunal not been convened? Why are these women and men being denied their most basic human rights under both Sierra Leone’s own laws and its international treaty obligations?
The time has come to address this wrong and begin to make amends. Begin by releasing or charging the eight prisoners, and I urge you to reaffirm Sierra Leone’s commitment to respecting human rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SKopp via Wikimedia Commons