The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) recommends for an independent investigation to be immediately instituted into the shootings in Kabala and if the SLP is found culpable for shooting unarmed protesters, government must take steps to remove lethal weapons from them and equip them with non-lethal weapons for its operations.

Policemen-SL

This recommendation was made in a press release from the Human Rights Commission in the wake of the incident in Kabala on Tuesday August 16 resulting to the loss of two lives, injuries sustained by various persons and the destruction of property.

HRCSL based its recommendation where, in recent past, citizens have been denied the right to peacefully protest and recalled that unarmed demonstrators have been shot at and killed in Kono in 2007, 2012 and 2014; Bumbuna in 2012 and Guard Street in 2013 and most recently in Kabala.

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“Every person has the right to peacefully protest alone or with others and freely express their opinion as guaranteed by the Constitution of Sierra Leone and other international instruments to which Sierra Leone is a party. This right is important in a democratic society as it empowers individuals and communities to express their concerns about matters affecting them”. The release states.

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The release also calls on Government and law enforcement agencies to develop and publish clear guidelines on protests and demonstrations so that these rights can be enjoyed by all equally.

The Commission believes that democracy, good governance and peace thrive when these rights are exercised without undue hindrance or restrictions. Limitations to these rights should only be determined by law and should be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.