From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

NOTICES & DOCUMENTS
PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO ALLEGED GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN BUMBUNA, TONKOLILI DISTRICT IN RELATION TO THE EVENTS OF 16TH, 17TH AND 18TH APRIL 2012
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Jun 4, 2012, 12:06

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF SIERRA LEONE

PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO ALLEGED GROSS VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN BUMBUNA, TONKOLILI DISTRICT IN RELATION TO THE EVENTS OF 16TH, 17TH AND 18TH APRIL 2012


[Under Section 7(2) of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Act 2004 and Rule 42 of the  Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (Complaints, Investigations and Inquiries)  Rules, 2008.]

Background


On the 16th and 17th of April 2012,  the workers of  African Minerals Ltd in Bumbuna, Tonkolili District in the Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone went on strike protesting against low pay, discriminatory treatmentand poor working conditions.

In response to the activities of the demonstrators, the Sierra Leone Police were called in to maintain law and order.  On arrival at the scene, the police are reported to have shot live bullets and tear-gas canisters indiscriminately sending the whole township into panic and pandemonium, with several residents desertingthe township and running helter-skelter  to nearby communities like Magburaka,Tonkolili District; Makeni, Bombali District; and Binkolo, Koinadugu District to seek refuge,protect themselves orsave their lives.


The death of one person was reported and confirmed, a number of persons sustained gunshot injuries and other injuries. There were unconfirmed allegations that three other persons had been killed and their bodies dumped into the river. There were also reports that youthsstoned and severely injured policemen during the skirmishes. It was further alleged by the Head of the Police Media and Public Relations that the youths were in possession of petrol bombs and shotguns that were used by some of the protesters during the skirmishes. There were also allegations of arbitrary arrests and detentions in which the police are reported to have broken into private homes, arrested the occupants and carted away their property. Market women reported loss of their goods as a result of the incident and certain women complained of unwarranted violence and verbal abuse by the police. It was further alleged that in their bid to contain the unrest the police sought to arrest a broadcaster, one Rev. Daniel Turay, working for Radio Numbara in Bumbuna who the police accused of inciting the youths into violence.

 

Under Section 7(2)(a) of  the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Act, 2004,  the Commission has the mandate, on its own initiative, to investigate human rights violations that come to its knowledge through a public inquiry as provided for under Rules 42 to 56 of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (Complaints, Investigations and Inquiries) Rules, 2008. 

 

Prior to the Bumbuna incident, the Commission had received a complaint from the residents of Feregbeya in 2010. In Complaint No HRCSL-NR 12/2010 -21 (Ibrahim Koroma on behalf of his subjectsand the Inspector General of Police and the LUC Magburaka Police Division) the residents of Kalasongoia Chiefdom and, Ferebeya village in Tonkolili District (also in the Bumbuna area)complained against a brutal campaign to put down a riot that was protesting against the activities of African Minerals Ltd in their community.

 

Upon careful consideration of the events in Bumbuna of April 16th-18th and considering the earlier complaint by a community in the same area, the Commission is of the opinion that there appears to be systemic or repeat violations of particular human rights or the human rights of a class of people in the country and there are allegations of and appears to exist a situation of gross human rights violations. The Commission has therefore on its own initiative decided to conduct a public inquiry into the allegations of or into the apparent gross violations of human rights in order to determine the situation, its causes, and make appropriate orders, directives or recommendations to deal with the situation or to prevent the violations from reoccurring and make appropriate orders, directives or recommendations for the victims where violations are confirmed.

 

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference for this Inquiry shall be to:

1. Investigate the alleged gross human rights violations that occurred in Bumbuna between 16th and 18th April 2012 with a view to understanding their nature, causes  and scale and to identify those individuals, or institutions responsible;

2. Examine and determine individual cases of the victims of the alleged human rights violations and abuse;

3. Document, analyze and articulate the human rights issues and violations experienced by affected communities  as a consequence of the activities, actions, omissions or negligence of private companies;

4. Tounderstand the human rights implications of the policy and legal

framework relating to the exploitation of mineral resources in so far as the welfare of workers and host communities are concerned;

5. Prepare a report containing key findings, conclusions and recommendations, directives and orders including legal and policy reforms; and,

6. Issue orders for remedies tovictims in appropriate cases.


List of Issues to be considered

In conformity with Rule 44 of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Rules 2008, the Commission has come to the conclusion that, as informed by preliminary investigations into the Bumbuna incident and complaints received the issues before the Inquiry Panel are as follows:

 

1. Whether the police used disproportionate force leading to serious personal injuries and loss of life in violation of the right to life, contrary to section 16 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991, and contrary to article  4  of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR)  as well as article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

2. Whether the police subjected the residents of Bumbuna to arbitrary arrest and detention, contrary to section 17 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991;  contrary to article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966;  and, contrary to article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR);

3. Whether some members of the Bumbuna community were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to section 20 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone  Act No. 6 of 1991 and contrary to article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil  and Political Rights (ICCPR) and article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR);

4. Whether Bumbuna residents had their right to property violated, contrary to section 21 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 and, contrary to article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR);

5. Whether the aggrieved workers/demonstrators were discriminated against at African Minerals and on the basis of their nationality, race or social status contrary to international and regional treaties Sierra Leone has signed;

6. Whether the workers of African Minerals Limited have been denied just and favourable conditions of work in violation of national labour laws and article 7 of the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights 1966; and,

7. Whether the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly of the demonstrators, society women, and the radio broadcaster were violated through police action contrary to sections 25 and 26 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991; contrary to articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966; and, contrary to articles 9 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).


The Secretariat

For the purposes of this Inquiry and in accordance with Rule 42 (5) of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone(Complaints, Investigations and Inquiries) Rules, 2008, the Commission has set up a secretariat to manage the affairs of the Public Inquiry.

 

Meanwhile, anyone requiring further clarifications, wishing to make a statement, submit written memoranda or provide any information to the panel should contact the following headquarters and Regional offices of the Commission in Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni.


All documents should be addressed to:
:

TheSecretariat

Public Inquiry into Alleged Human Rights Violations in Bumbuna

Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone

OAU Drive, Tower Hill

NEC Building

Freetown

Sierra Leone

Email: publicinquiry.hrcsl@gmail.com

OR

The Secretariat

Public Inquiry into Alleged Human Rights Violations in Bumbuna

C/o Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone  Northern Regional Office

30a Wallace Johnson Street

Makeni

OR

The Secretariat

Public Inquiry into Alleged Human Rights Violations in Bumbuna

C/o Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Southern Regional Office

1 Old Railway Line,

Bo

OR

The Secretariat

Public Inquiry into Alleged Human Rights Violations in Bumbuna

Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Eastern Regional OfficeC/o UNIPSIL Compound

Kenema

 

Arrangement and Programs for the Inquiry

The following schedule of activities is informed by the need to employ various methods to gather information and evidence.   The specific dates on which these activities will take place will be communicated from time to time.

 

Activities

Place/Venue

 Community  Engagement

(Stage-setting and introduction of the work of the Commission to affected Communities).

Bumbuna

 Taking of Personal Statements from affected persons (victims/their representatives, alleged perpetrators and witnesses) and evidence gathering.

Bumbuna,

Focus Group Discussions with selected community stakeholders

Bumbuna;

Site Visits to places where  major acts of violence took place

Bumbuna;

Oral and Written Submissions (Testifying):

1.      Community Representatives and other persons of  special interest to the Inquiry;

2.      Government Officers responsible agencies and ministries; and,

3.      The Police

4.      The Management and Staff of African Minerals Ltd.

5.      Civil society organizations and media institutions including Radio Numbara

Bumbuna;

 

Submission by experts

 Bumbuna

Roundtable  with Major stakeholders

Bumbuna

 

Duration of the Inquiry

The Inquiry is expected to last for four months and will commence on the 1st of June 2012.

Invitation to the Public to participate in the Inquiry

Members of the public are invited to participate in the inquiry by providing information that will be useful in determining the issues before the panel. This information should be presented in the form of written memoranda either by individuals, groups of individuals or interested organizations. The documents should be signed and forwarded to the Inquiry Secretariat at the address provided above.

 

Any person who wishes to provide information to the Inquiry Panel inconfidence should contact the Secretariat through the contacts provided above. Arrangements will be made for that person to provide information with maximum regard to their safety. Measures will also be put in place to protect witnesses who so request and who, in the view of the panel, require such protection.

It is important that people try as much as possible to provide evidence for the allegations they make by providing photocopies of authentic documents, photographs, medical reports and any other evidence.  The information provided should be limited to the issues before the Inquiry Panel for determination.

Interested Persons and Institutions

[Under Rule 45 (1) of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (Complaints, Investigations and Inquiries) Rules 2008. ]

1. Francis Munu, The Inspector General of Police

2. Samuel Benedict Vandy Strategic Regional Support Officer (Makeni)

3. Superintendent, Alfred C. Dassama,  LUC Magburuka

4. ASP Konneh, Bumbuna Police Station, OC, Bumbuna Police Station

5. PC Alimamy B.Y Koroma III, the Paramount Chief, Bumbuna

6.  Frank Timis, Executive Chairman, African Minerals Ltd

7. MoserayFadika, CEO African Minerals Ltd

8. Hindolo S. Trye, Minister for Labour and Social Security

9. MinkailuMansaray, Minister responsible for Mining

10. Allie D. Kamara, Resident Minister, Northern Province

11. Tim Fofana,  Community Liason Officer,  African Minerals Ltd

12. Moses Gbondo, General Secretary, Mining and Allied Services Employees Union

 

Application to be Named as an Interested Party

[Under Rule 45 (2) of the of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (Complaints, Investigations and Inquiries) Rules, 2008.]


Any person, institution or organization that would wish to be named as an interested party in this Inquiry should make an application to be so named within a period of one week after the appearance of this public notice. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a central role or interest in the subject matter of the Inquiry.


Dated this 1st day of June, 2012

 

Signed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commissioner Rev. Moses Khanu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commissioner Jamesina King



© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.