Journalist assaulted by group of vigilantes linked to ruling party
#SierraLeone dissolved the Human Rights Commission. By law, Commissioners are appointed for 5 year terms to enable them to do their work, often speaking out about sensitive human rights issues, without government interference. The UN Special Rapporteur on HRDs has raised concern. https://t.co/2W3ZYSW5wt— Sabrina Mahtani (@Sabrina_Mahtani) 24 October 2018
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, raised concerns, in a statement on 23rd October 2018, on the de facto dismissal of the three members of Sierra Leone's Human Rights Commission, who were appointed in April 2017. President Julius Maada Bio ordered the dissolution of the Commission in June 2018, said the statement, while the Government asked the public to nominate the three commissioners' replacements in August 2018, without formally dismissing them. Forst commented:
"The Government’s decision to de facto dissolve the Commission’s current membership undermines the rule of law in Sierra Leone and distracts from efforts to promote and protect human rights, and human rights defenders in the country."
On 29th September 2018, a group of vigilantes linked to the ruling party, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), assaulted the editor of the newspaper Awareness Times, John Korama, while he was covering the by-election at Mile 14 Town in Tonko Limba. Korama was slapped and kicked to the ground, after the group became suspicious of Korama, who was secretly recording the group intimidating voters at the polling station at the Saint Mary’s Secondary School. A police officer and the chairman of the rulling SLPP party stood by and did not intervene, said the journalist. He further said to the Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA):
"During the time they were beating me up, I had covered my head to protect my skull bones. After I heard the voice of Mr. Umaru Fomba, the National Electoral Commission Returning Officer, telling them that I am a journalist. I lifted up my head and I saw to my utter shock, SLPP Chairman, Manso Dumbuya, had been there as the boys were beating me. He looked at me but did not say a single word."
According to the Concord Times, lecturers from the University of Limkokwing of Creative Technology staged a demonstration on 3rd September 2018 to protest against the late payment of their salaries and the huge disparity between salaries paid to local and foreign staff .