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Sierra Leone News: HRC calls for repeal of Seditious Criminal Law

The recently released Human Rights report for 2012 of the Human Rights Commission has said in their recommendations, that the Government should repeal the Seditious Libel provisions in the 1965 Public Order Act and also enact the Access to Information bill which was introduced in Parliament two years ago.
In the report, it was stated that freedom of expression is guaranteed by article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political rights and the universal declaration of human rights, article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s rights and section 25 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.
However, the government is yet to implement the truth and reconciliation commissions and the human rights commission’s recommendations for the repeal of the seditious libel provisions in the Public Order Act of 1965.
This provision continues to pose a threat to the exercise and full enjoyment of these rights, especially by journalists and human rights activists.
Moreover, the Human Rights commission noted that in April, personnel of the Sierra Leone Police attempted to arrest a radio broadcaster at Radio Numbara, Bumbuna whom they alleged was inciting violence against them during the Bumbuna incident of April 16-18.
Also in August, a journalist and a graphic designer, both with the daily Awoko newspaper were reportedly assaulted by two military personnel.
This, the report said, that it will continue to undermine the work of journalists and human rights activists, if it is not repealed, furthermore access to freedom of information is being impeded by the non enactment of the freedom of information bill.
The report went further on to say the freedom of assembly and association is provided for in Article 22 of the international covenant on civil and political right, Article 20 of the universal declaration of human right, Article 11 of the African Charter on human and people’s rights and section 26(1) of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone. Freedom of movement is guaranteed in section 18 of the 1991 constitution.
The commission noted that the right to freedom of assembly association and movement were generally enjoyed in the country.
During the 2012 election campaign, activities by political parties including public meetings and rallies were based on a national timetable administered by NEC. Though the action was meant to avoid political clashes, the commission noted that schedules were not given to independent candidates, thereby limiting their right to freedom of assembly, association and movement.
By Nancy Koroma
August 15, 2013

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