''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 8 No 6

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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BBC - Now a wave of scandals has hit some of Sierra Leone's diplomatic missions abroad. From allegations of sexual harassment and physical confrontations with staff to official misconduct - much to the embarrassment of the government in Freetown. Now President Ernest Koroma has ordered the recall of some of the offending diplomats with some others reprimanded. The BBC's Lansana Fofanah spoke to Zainab Bangura the country's Foreign Minister and asked her how embarrassing were these incidents for the government.

Zainab (Z) - We have 17 missions, ambassadors around the world and in a couple of them we had problems and immediately these issues were brought to our attention, we put into motion the machinery of the ministry to investigate these problems and whilst the investigation, of course, were going on, a lot of the issues were written on the papers and we have taken the necessary action. Of course it is embarrassing because as a country in a lot of these places, it is the ambassador who represents the Head of State and so the President himself particularly paid special attention to that and asked us in the ministry of Foreign Affairs we discussed it together with him and we investigated the issues and made the report and he took the necessary action that was required of him.

Lansana (L) Tell us some of the offences that were committed that so angered the state, the people?

Zainab (Z) Well I think they vary. The worst one we had was in Russia and so obviously we worked together with the Russian government and so we made sure that we on our part did what we could and we co-operated with them and we took the decision that was required of us to take. Others had to do with the personal life of ambassadors, you know others had to do with administrative work of the embassy and so they all vary, they are not the same.

Lansana (L) Now with all these happenings going on - what line of action have you taken? I understand some ambassadors have been recalled from their postings?

Zainab (Z) As I said we in the ministry of Foreign Affairs investigated these issues. We looked at the rules, the regulations, the ones that we felt were the worst cases we recalled as ambassadors, we queried each one of them and they gave us their explanation. In some cases we worked with the host country in almost all of them including the case of Liberia. We worked with the host country. When we got the report we advised the President what action to take and he took the necessary action.

Lansana (L) This surely paints a bad image of the country at a time when Sierra Leone is trying to re-brand itself?

Zainab (Z) Well what I'll say, you know, really unfortunately, when some of these incidents happened, sometimes people don't come to us ministry of Foreign Affairs and get the other side of the story. Or people do not give the benefit of the doubt to some of the people who are involved - for example the ambassadors. Its only the one side of the stories and you know when you quarrel with somebody the other party always tried to give a story as if they are the ones who've done the right thing so I do not say that these ambassadors have not misbehaved, I don't want to be misquoted. I do know that there are cases where it was extreme violation of the law of the country and we took the necessary action.


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