Letter to editor

An Open Letter to President Kabbah

17 November 2005 at 02:48 | 349 views


Office of the President
State House
15 Siaka Stevens Street

Have by some surgeon, ...on your charge to stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.

I am writing to Your Excellency Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, president of the republic of Sierra Leone, with deep concern, but with great optimism, longing to hear that His Excellency is the leader I described in a recent essay on Awareness Times Newspaper: “Sierra Leone needs managers who will come into politics for the love of politics and for the love of serving the people, who are willing to live the moderate life of a politician, who will go about their daily business of serving the people and enjoy full gratification for doing just that, regardless of what others say about them".

Certainly, without further declarations, Your Excellency is the democratically elected president of the Republic of Sierra Leone who has taken the oath of upholding and enforcing the laws of the land that protect your country’s people with dignity and allow them freedom of expression. I implore you, Your Excellency, do not use this unlimited law enforcement power against a member of a group [journalism] whose profession deems him to tread constantly on a thin line between freedom and imprisonment.

Remember, Your Excellency, that all leaders would become tyrants if they do not pay particular attention to the precarious status of a journalist in a society-who must speak out, sometimes at great risk of imprisonment. Bringing to the masses the activities of the society that include the power that be is an extremely difficult line to tread even under the greatest care and attention, and we have seen much evidence in the rest of the world where journalists are slapped on the wrist in consideration of the precariousness of their profession. I am bringing to His Excellency’s attention a condition under which the journalists must do their job of bringing news from you to the people and to you from the people. In this process, Paul Kamara’s debacle with the law began. I am asking for your consideration as the holder of the most merciful pen of our land. Please consider my letter, amongst others, as a humble letter of mercy that is devoid of superciliousness.

Does the court, by its charge have other means of restoring Your Excellency and the country’s image? Lest, he/she are both castigated by democracy-loving nations and organizations, which at peace with, weighs more than satisfying judicial pride of that fine judge that rightfully upholds the laws of the land. I may not be referring to the ordeals of Paul Kamara, which does not exclude death in prison in the bar above, but the continuing agony of his incarceration, regardless of many national and international voices, on you and the nation on the world stage.

What is clear is that Paul Kamara is not a dangerous prisoner as Foday Sankoh who must go to jail and face the brunt of incarceration or the country will be at risk of another war. Paul Kamara’s expose’ includes, as far as the Sierra Leone voters are concerned, an inconsequential aspect of our history, otherwise you would not have won the mandate of the people in two consecutive presidential elections. On the other hand, below are some of the expressions of very important press freedom organizations around the world. None claims Paul Kamara did not commit a crime of seditious libel of the 1965 Public Order Act of Sierra Leone. They are focused on the premise that prison would become the inevitable home for the journalists if every leader pursues everything the journalists write about leaders, everyday in the world:

(October 8th, 2004) World Movement Participant Receives 4-Year Prison Sentence in Sierra Leone
The World Movement for Democracy would like to express its grave concern upon the conviction of Paul Kamara, editor of the Sierra Leone paper For Di People. On October 5th, Mr. Kamara received a four-year prison sentence for criminally libeling Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Paul Kamara is a well-known democracy advocate in Sierra Leone. Winner of the 2000 World Press Review’s International Editor of the Year Award and the 1997 International Press Directory’s Freedom of the Press Award, he was sentenced under the Public Orders Act of 1965, which allows for the jailing of journalists, printers and vendors for libel. (World Movement for Democracy)

2.03.2005 Imprisoned newspaper editor put in solitary confinement, in top-security cell
Reporters Without Borders wrote today to the UN secretary-general’s special representative in Sierra Leone voicing concern about reports that Paul Kamara, the editor of the daily For Di People, has been transferred to the high-security cell where former rebel chief Foday Sanko of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was held until he died in 2003.
The organization asked the special representative, who also heads the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), "to shed light on these reports and, if appropriate, to ensure that Kamara’s rights as a prisoner are respected."
According to information received by Reporters Without Borders, four prison guards burst into Kamara’s cell shortly after 8 p.m. on 22 February and tried to drag him to Sankoh’s former cell, which is only used for dangerous detainees. Kamara refused to go. This violent incident took place a few days after a search was carried out in his cell for unclear motives in the course of which his food stocks were confiscated.
Following the initial, unsuccessful attempt to move Kamara, the prison authorities succeeded in transferring him to the high-security cell on 25 February. He is reportedly still being held there, in solitary confinement. (Reporters Without Borders)
How His Excellency intends to restore our image as freedom loving people and promoters of freedom of expression otherwise, owing to our recent brutal past in a decade-long war, which was characterized by some of the most atrocious war crimes that has been committed against humanity in recent years?

I write thus, Your Excellency, to inform you of, not only, how your merciful pen will restore our world image, but how it will restore the confidence of the journalists in our society, whose profession is very important to fighting the most difficult problem of corruption our nation is facing.

With great respect, Your Excellency, from your fellow citizen,

Karamoh Kabba

Photo: Karamoh.

Karamoh Kabba
Author: “A Mother’s Saga: An Account of the Rebel War in Sierra Leone”, “Lion Mountain: A Perilous Evolution of the Dens” and “Morquee: A Political Drama of Wish over Wisdom”.