''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 7

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Tuesday November 22, 2011 - As election day 2012 draws closer, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallstrom has called on "all people in positions of influence" in Sierra Leone to speak up against the use of sexual violence as a tool of political intimidation.

The visit of this top official who is leading the crusade against sexual violence could not have come at a more appropriate time in a country that has the rather shameful and dubious record of having, because of extreme sexual violence against women, exercised the international community to make rape as a war crime. It is to be noted too that the phrase "all people in positions of influence" refers to all political leaders, community leaders and all in leadership positions who influence and can order such acts to be carried out against the weak and defenceless in a country still trying to recover from the horrors of the past.

This visit must also be seen by the government led by the smoke and mirrors President who keeps in his company men associated with the horrors of the past including the brutal and massive rape of women and all those who came in their paths as they sought to satisfy sexual urges/orgies that could not even be seen in the most bizarre behavioural tendencies of wild beasts, that the international community is keeping a close eye on their tendency to initiate and order violence against the weak.

It is also welcoming news to hear that Ms Wallstrom took the time to visit victims of gender violence as well as a number of people associated with the law in Sierra Leone as she noted that "Additional resources are also required to strengthen the capacity of the judicial system in order to address the issue of sexual violence."

This visit as well as the statement issued by the UN on her visit coupled with her meeting with the press is a reminder of the duty we all owe to the weak and defenceless and that every effort must be made to respect the rights of our women and girl folk as well as men and boy folk who are easy targets for rapists and other types of this same breed of animals in human form.

It is to be recalled that after Justice Bankole Thompson submitted his report on the allegations of violence including those of a sexual nature against women supporters of the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party, the SLPP, the then Press Secretary who is now the Deputy Information minister published a dangerous and misleading headline - SLPP rape claims were a big hoax, says Bankole Thompson Commission   - a report that he tried to expunge from their usual internet distribution channels, but which we reproduced to show just how deceitful the government goes about with the "management" of information. The good judge and his team knew quite well that without the necessary forensic tools at the disposal of law enforcement agencies as well as the health ministry, he would be kicking against the thorn bush had he emphatically stated that the women who complained of being raped were actually raped, but he did mention in his report that -

"...we also conclude that the said victims were each subjected to physical mistreatment amounting to outrages upon their personal dignity or other inhumane conduct in violation of their human rights protection."

It is also good to note that according to the summary of the report carried on the State House website then by the former Press Secretary, the self same Sheka Tarawallie, the report recommended among others that

3. Based on the evidence before the commission of a strong perception on the part of victim/witnesses that the Police were in collusion with the alleged perpetrators in victimizing them, we recommend that Government considers the advisability and expediency of investigating allegations of this nature reflecting adversely on Police neutrality, impartiality and professionalism.

4. Based on the evidence presented to the Commission to the effect that sexual violence was meted out to the alleged victims as a political tool, a strong and legitimate perception held by advocates of the elimination of gender-based discrimination especially against women, We recommend that Government considers the advisability and expediency of addressing this problem as a matter of utmost priority, from the perspective of social justice.

Nothing was done to right the wrongs outlined in that report thus paving the way for the perpetrators and those of a like-minded nature to believe that under the watch of the present government rape or the threat thereof as an instrument of intimidation is quite normal and must be encouraged.

We would therefore urge the international community and all the guarantors of our fragile peace to keep eyes wide open on events in Sierra Leone as election 2012 approaches. This watch should cover all sectors of Sierra Leone society and must not only be limited to APC government and party activists.

We issue this appeal because of reports received that certain elements in all the political parties used the threat of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women who wanted to participate in their own right in the lead to local and other elections.

When those who were deliberately denied party symbols decided to go it alone as independent candidates, such threats were openly made against them with in some instances, the security forces giving their nod to such acts.

Kindly note this report which we carried sometime back

March 8, 2010 - Celebrating our women - Today 8th March is a day set aside to celebrate the lives of the women of Sierra Leone as members of the international and global community observing this year's theme - "Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”  The Sierra Herald joins women all over the world, more especially in Sierra Leone where the expression and the enjoyment of the rights of women remain an illusion more so in the rural areas where "traditional values" are used as cover to exploit, ill-treat and and marginalise women. The Sierra Herald notes especially, the report of the Justice Bankole-Thompson report The learned Justice Bankole-Thompsonafter the attack on the headquarters of the opposition in which among the violence perpetrated on supporters of the party, including women, political capital was made of the report with the President's own Press Secretary Sheka Tarawallie and State House website gloating (that page is here just in case they have taken if off) over a section of the report which stated

"Predicated upon the totality of the evidence presented before the Commission and upon the facts as found, and guided by applicable principles of law covering the different facets of the Inquiry, both in its factual and legal perspectives, the Commission finds each allegation of rape set out in Part 3 of the Report, unsustainable in law"

The learned judge knew that proving rape without the necessary forensic equipment and trained staff would be very difficult and dared not put his hard-earned reputation on the line but was good enough to recommend that government puts in place the necessary machinery that would not see the Police becoming a part of the repressive state machinery against women. The government was also advised to investigate the other aspects of the violence visited upon the opposition men and women. Among the recommendationsHas the President lost his vision? Photo: Sierra Express Media

Based on the evidence before the commission of a strong perception on the part of victim/witnesses that the Police were in collusion with the alleged perpetrators in victimizing them, we recommend that Government considers the advisability and expediency of investigating allegations of this nature reflecting adversely on Police neutrality, impartiality and professionalism.

Indeed it is worth reminding the Press Secretary and State House of this article found on one international website which claims that "Rape suspects have a field day in Sierra Leone" because, according to the report from the UN Office in Freetown

.......not a single suspect was convicted for 927 crimes in the country in 2009. Figures provided by National Family Support Unit indicate that during the course of last year, 313 rape cases were referred to court, 460 are still being investigated, 40 are pending while 122 were resolved or retracted and only two dismissed.

This is the story of the fate of women in Sierra Leone where State House continues to gloat over Justice Bankole-Thompson's report which investigated allegations of rape and violence visited upon Sierra Leone's women. It was as if no violence was perpetrated against the women and other party supporters!!!!


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