A Commentary By Ranger
Throughout the history of this country it has been the norm that the innocent suffer for the wicked. With this new dispensation, i.e. the new direction, it is expected that this old phenomenon will also change for the better. It is hoped that the new direction will usher in a new system where the wicked pay the price and the innocent placated.
This expectation brings one to the issue of the blanket travelling ban slammed on all government functionaries in the past regime, by the Sierra Leone Police. Whilst their concern is noted, yet it is also equal to note that there are officials who are untainted, whose freedom to enjoy their god given right is being infringed upon, even as there are no proofs or allegations or suspicions of involvement in any corrupt practices when in governance.
In the aftermath of the release of the Transition Report, the SLP issued a release restricting the movement of all former government functionaries, including those whose names were mentioned in the report. It is believed that this travelling ban will last until the commission of Enquiry to be set up completes its work and gives its findings and recommendations, which is expected to take the best of a year.
Meanwhile whilst the enquiry is going on, the innocent will have to suffer the same plight of the others who may be knee deep in the whole saga. Whilst it may be said that they are all being prevented from travelling because investigations are ongoing, it is not known when the investigation will end and if some of them are not culpable, they would have suffered in vain as there has not been any precedent set, where suspects have had redress from the infringement of their freedoms.
As majority of them may not have a fall-back position like the legal practitioners or medical doctors, there is the possibility of them having job opportunities which they will want to take, and some of these jobs may demand that they go out of this jurisdiction, but this ban will prevent them from doing so and by extension, affect them economically.
Will they be compensated for economic loss according to the dictates of the law or will they simply suffer and brood over the missed opportunity of a lucrative job?
What if the case is the need to travel abroad for medical services? Will the ban still prevent them from doing so and in effect complicate their well-being? If at the end of the whole investigations, the suspect is not found culpable, will the government take responsibility for the state of his health?
Some social commentators say that the right to freedom of movement should not be infringed on and the police should be able to conduct a thorough and quick investigation into every individual case to ensure that those who have case to answer, be reprimanded and those who are innocent, allowed to go about their normal business. It will be injustice to keep a blanket ban on all officials of the past government until the commission of enquiry completes its work, as there may be people who may not have any case to answer.
After all in the present global dispensation, extradition for corruption related offences is possible, they maintained. In their submission, they stated that with the good relationship the government has with the International Community, it is much easier to arrest and bring to trial anyone who is alleged to be culpable for corrupt practices whilst in office, wherever they are in the world.
Human Rights activists have condemned the police blanket ban on all government functionaries, describing it as a violation of the rights of individuals to freedom of movement, an integral part of the constitution and part of International Treaties signed by the government.
They are calling on the SLP to fast track its investigations and allow those who do not have any case to answer, to enjoy their freedom of movement. President Bio promised that no one’s right will be infringed upon and as President and fountain of honor, it is expected that he protects the rights of his subjects.