By Sylvester Samba.
The Sierra Leone Police (SLP) under the watchful eyes of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr. Richard Moigbe has been accused of conspiring to rig the upcoming elections in favor of a particular party.
The Executive Secretary of Human Right Defenders Network Sierra Leone (HRDN-SL), Mr. Alphonsus Gbanie has told pressmen that the attempt by the country’s IGP to implement ‘Elections Lockdown for National Security’ is a clear demonstration that they are not committed to police a free, fear and credible election which is scheduled to take place in six days time.
Mr. Gbanie lamented that if there is any possible lockdown, majority of the voters will be disenfranchised. “Voters will not only fear to go out to vote, but that those whose polling stations are located in far flung areas will not be able to vote because of the absence of vehicles plying the routes”, the human right defender noted.
He further explained that if the lockdown leads to any possible violence on elections day, the IG and his boys will be held responsible.
The Executive Secretary maintained that the action by the Police is unacceptable as it is not in line with both international and local laws more especially when the country is not under a state of emergency.
Mr. Gbanie recalled that there is no widespread political violence across the country that will warrant the Police to implement such lockdown.
He said the network notes with serious concern that the Elections Day Lockdown is a gross violation of International Human Rights Law-International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
He said the network is of the opinion that the reasons for the lockdown by the police are not justifiable under the Siracusa Principles that guide derogation of civil and political rights which include the freedom of movement guaranteed under the ICCPR of which Sierra Leone is a signatory.