Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sierra Leone: Ebola regulations and other laws must not be used to curtail freedom of expression and assembly

Sierra
Leone should stop using emergency regulations brought in to combat Ebola as a
pretext to restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty
International said today.
“Now
that Ebola cases are reducing and schools have re-opened, the government should
immediately review the State of Emergency provisions and ensure that only provisions
strictly required to fight the Ebola epidemic remain in effect. Rights to
freedom of expression and peaceful assembly must not be unnecessarily or
disproportionately curtailed, ’’ said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International’s West
Africa researcher.
The
call comes following an increase in arrests of opposition members, bans on
peaceful protests and an unwillingness to tolerate dissent that has heightened
following the removal of former Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana on 18 March.
Even though cases of Ebola have sharply reduced in Sierra Leone, State of
Emergency measures have been increasingly used alongside other laws to stifle
criticism, some of which are thought to be linked to the removal of the Vice President.
On
Sierra Leone’s Independence Day, 27 April, 15 members of the main opposition
party, Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and a Senior Officer from the Human
Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, were arrested in Kenema
(East)
and are currently on trial. There are concerns about excessive use of force by
the police with several people injured. A march organised by the Sierra Leone
Association of Journalists on Independence Day in Freetown was also banned.
Eight days earlier, 10 people were arrested for protesting outside the US
Embassy, while in March a meeting of the Bar Association was broken up. In
contrast, assemblies and events held by the governing party have been allowed.
     Sierra Leone: Ebola regulations and other laws must not be used to curtail freedom of expression and assembly

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