From the Editor’s Keyboard

Sierra Leone police under the spotlight

20 August 2008 at 21:25 | 477 views

EDITORIAL

The Sierra Leone police force, like most of the police forces in Africa, has traditionally not been friends of the media or members of the opposition. This is not a new thing: the British colonialists used the police extensively to suppress opposition to their rule and African politicians who took over from them merely perfected the use of the police to intimidate or get rid of opponents.

In some cases, however, senior police officers would order their men and women (sometimes without the knowledge of the authorities) to do things merely to please the politicians and preserve their jobs. So there has always been bad blood between the police forces in Africa’s banana republics and critical members of society(usually the media and the opposition).

In Sierra Leone, during the rebel war, police officers were special targets of RUF rebels and the different militias who see them (police), not as a force for good, but as a force for evil.

This is does not however mean that all police officers in Sierra Leone are bad. We still have very fine and professional police officers always ready to do their job in a very professional manner.

That’s why we welcome the ongoing investigations on the August 13 incidents in Freetown and maybe similar incidents around the country.

The Sierra Leone police force is facing a very serious crisis; the people are losing confidence in them. All bad apples in this organization should therefore be quickly removed after very careful investigations.

We think the APC government should also do a drastic restructuring of this very important part of government machinery because whatever the police does will have a serious impact on how the people view the current government. The image of the the police forms part of the image of the government.

We therefore urge president Ernest Koroma to make sure the ongoing investigation is speedily carried out and the culprits (police or civilian) quickly prosecuted and punished. This is a matter of great urgency not only for the government but for all Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad. The rest of the world is also watching. May peace prevail in the land.

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