SLP Media & Communications Unit
There is a huge responsibility on the security sector, now it is widely accepted that containment and/or quarantine are the most effective methods of reducing the rate of spread of Ebola. While the Sierra Leone Police has for some time been in a state of preparedness to effect deployment of troops and personnel to the epicenter and other proximate areas the challenge has always been that of resource flow including man and materials movement, mobilization of information and the necessary legal infrastructure around which an effective containment framework can be established.
The Ebola virus is I its most virulent when the victims have passed on. In so many ways, the police may be one of the first people to be called upon to attend to dying or dead victims that are left uncared for. The Police has to be vigilant therefore in approaching such public health emergencies and in this current environment for viral infection, best advice is for the police to always go accompanied by trained medical and health personnel to determine the best ways to handle such cadavers. The police must therefore necessarily be well resourced to play its role within the current trend and guidelines for containing the virus at local levels. The matter of quarantine is in itself a more coterminous one. There are issues around civil liberties that are largely been dealt with by the declaration of a state of emergency b the Head of State, is Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.
Adding to the climate of exercising statutory controls and implementing executive orders should be the considerations of information loading. There are varied sources of information on the disease and in such a case, the more about it that can be disseminated and shared, the better for our communities to deal with its ramifications. It is now being evidenced in Kenema for example that fear of the disease’s outcomes are now so widespread that self reporting has increased in the District. The messages have gone far and wide that Ebola responds in some measure to early diagnosis and treatment. In the event, the 10% chance of survival is realizable in cases where a suspected case is reported early enough for detection and treatment of underlying conditions started in earnest.
The Sierra Lone Police is already taking steps to internalize the messages around the disease. Its key determinants; causes and effects and also elucidating on measures of containment and control of perimeter areas. The selflessness of frontline police personnel cannot be over stated as they risk their lives daily for the protection of the rest of society. To contain this disease would mean that from time to time, police command posts would become vulnerable to those who may not be too pleased with instructions on containment issued by front line officers, there would be those who may have early symptoms of the disease but under some contorted reasoning try to escape to other safe areas for treatment or validation. In such cases, where the police entangles such patients or suspected cases, such altercations may lead to police officers opening up another theatre of risk and contamination.
Inspector General of Police, Francis A Munu has given clear instructions in concert with the Executive Management Bard to al rank and file on measures to effect operational duties, command and control procedures, especially in line with widened powers to the Police on account of the state of emergency declared by His Excellency the President. The IGP and other members of the police hierarchy are monitoring frontline positions and they are reticent that the Police would do all in its power to maintain law and order while at the same time have an eye for the civil liberties and human rights implications of its engagement with local communities. Containment is as effective as the Police and members of the security agencies put on its implementation. Issues around quarantine are not matters for routine police concern unless where there is clear medical guidance or request for security back up to effect such stringent measures in the fight against the deadly virus.
The fight against Ebola is a national one, devoid of regional or other transcendent bias. The Sierra Leone Police wishes the general public to appreciate that its efforts are concentrated on making a value difference in this fight, securing life and property as well as safeguarding rights and liberties. The entire security sector is committed to making the difference in this fight and is working in close collaboration to synchronize activities and ensure that command instructions are relevant to local circumstances. The significance of information that goes out to the public domain must be attuned to the general directive to give assurances and guarantees as to the rights of individuals whilst taking an overarching view of the communities’ rights to retain its freedom from contamination or to protect innocent victims from contracting the disease without due cause. The general public is assured of the Police resolve to treat their responsibilities in this matter very seriously and are hereby requested to contact:
SLP Media & Communications Unit
in the event of any issues which they may wish to bring to the attention of senior officers. Comments could also be left on the Police website at: