The police have refused a peaceful planned demonstration for Mon 13th July by the Sierra Leone association of journalists (SLAJ).
The planned protest is against the failure of the Supreme Court to rule on SLAJ’s case calling for the repeal of the criminal and seditious libel laws from the law books of Sierra Leone. The Police had been given a 21-day notice as required by law.
The inspector general of Police Brima Acha Kamara told journalists he had used his ‘discretion’ and refused the permission sought by SLAJ to process peacefully and deliver letters to the president, parliament and the ombudsman.
Acha Kamara said he is not obliged to give his reason for the refusal and somehow arrogantly retorted ‘am I obliged to give reason No! It is my discretion, go and find other means.’
He then went on to say he would not allow journalists ‘to put undue pressure on the judiciary’. Questioned whether it was because of security concerns, the IG said he was totally against marching through the streets in a group or ‘processing.’ He could not be drawn on the issue that he was denying ‘a basic democratic right – the right to peaceful protest’.
Among his several promises before he became president in 2007, Ernest Bai Koroma said he would repeal the 1965 public order act to allow journalists more freedom. Just like so many of his promises, he is yet to deliver on this one, two years into his presidency.
SLAJ President Umaru Fofanah said ‘it is a sad day.’