By Kaikura B Musa Pokawa
Croydon United Kingdom
I would like to join issue and share in the relief with all those well-wishers who have expressed the joy at the release of Mr Paul Kamara from prison.
Mr Kamara was a very good and independent minded journalist before his incarceration. I hope that he will maintain that independence of mind so that we will all continue to respect his journalistic skills from which ever political divide we may belong.
There are those conspiracy theorists that have forever tried to associate Mr Kamara’s plight with some wrong doing by the SLPP, and indeed the President. These are people with supercilious mindsets. It is their stock in trade. These are people I can only describe as perpetual mischief-makers and political child frighteners. In my view they portray attitudes, which reflect narrowness of perception, and exposes their shallowness. Most of their attitude is a denial of common sense, which to me is an alibi for progress. I really cannot understand their Raison Deter, if any.
We know that Paul Kamara was release from prison because he won his appeals at the Court of Appeal. We must also remember that Paul Kamara was sent to prison in the first place by a properly constituted court of law sitting in Freetown.
To continue to argue otherwise would be disingenuous to our whole judicial system. I believe that the learned Lawyers at the Bar in Sierra Leone have continued to serve us well. I further believe that the integrity of our Judges is beyond reproach and their SINCERERITY, HONESTY, and DEDICATION should never be question.
I share in the belief with the many who has questioned the Seditious Liable laws in
Sierra Leone. This is not only an old and archaic law but it is a very bad Law. There are many arguments in favour of its long overdue repeal. I cannot think of any against. However, until the act is repeal it remains on the Statute books of Sierra Leone and most be consider as such by all who have any thing to do with the Judiciary, be they lawyers, Judges and journalist. A law of the land cannot simply be ignored because it is bad- until it is amended
In Mr Kamara’s, case a lower court convicted him. The Appeal court thought the conviction was unsafe, quashed it and released Mr Kamara. When all the sentimentality has died down and the dust has settled, we will realise that this is a triumph for Democracy. Because of the democratic nature of Sierra Leone, there is a truly enhance separation of powers and the confirmation of the independent of the judiciary and therefore the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law is there to protect the democracy in our country. It follows therefore that the rule of law must be the fundamental basis of our human rights and this should never be compromised for any political gain or purpose. I can say that the SLPP government has so far maintained this respect for Human Rights and should be congratulated and encouraged to continue thereto.
Sierra Leone has come a long way. I cannot think of many developing countries that can boast such advance principle of individual liberty and transparent justice under the law. Even Mr Kamara said so in his praise for the Appeal Court. This must be part of the progress that has encouraged the international communities to such an extent that they have confirmed their confidence in our country and will continue to do so.
Seditious Libel law is a bad law, as we all seem to agree. That being the case, why then has it remained on the Statute books for so long? I believe it is about that Parliament took the lead.
There however must be balances and checks. Those who have responsibilities like Journalists must bear that in mind. They cannot be let loose to go around defaming people wily nilly. Rights and responsibility goes together. Freedom of speech which is part of the Human rights of all Sierra Leoneans must be balance with the freedom that innocent people will not to be gratuitously Defamed.
One cannot help but feel sorry for President Kabbah over this matter. It was a case of act, you are dammed and don’t act you are dammed. The poor guy was been accused of been a convicted thief when as a matter of fact he has never been convicted of theft in any court of Law anywhere. The so-called commissions of Inquiries that were set up were quasi-Judicial bodies. They are not courts of Law. They cannot convict anyone. They can make a pronouncement as to their finding and declarations as to what should happen, that is all. We all know they mostly made pronouncements that suited the bodies that set them up (who are usually illegal military regimes) Unlike the Courts of Law which reaches a verdict after a thorough examination of relevant evidence independently, that is why only properly constituted Courts of law can convict a person in Sierra Leone.
President Kabbah exercised his Human Rights when he brought the actions in the courts of law. He must have had confidence in the judicial system for him to want to do so in the first place. It was left to the courts to interpret the Law as they saw fit. President Kabbah had no control over what the Judges did at the Lower Courts, and did not have any control over what the Judges did in the Higher Courts. The Higher Courts have a duty to supervise and correct their brethrens in the lower courts. That is exactly what has happened in this case. There is nothing to blame the President for in this matter; to the contrary, he is vindicated. You cannot blame Kabbah for a bad Law that was on the Statute books long before he became President.
Can you imagine if Kabbah had authorised the arrest of Paul Kamara, and got him locked up without the due process of the law, what would have happened. The international community (that matters) would have known about it and would have been up in arms. I for one would not be writing this type of letter. So why attack Kabbah for acting according to the laws of the land?
President Kabbah has had successful terms in office. He has ended the war, and he will be living a country, which is hitherto, on the right road, full of confidence and highly respected within the international communities.
Like him or not, Kabbah has cemented his good place in the history of Sierra Leone along sides such greats like Sir Milton Margai, and Sir Albert Margai. He will retire holding his head high knowing he has served his people well. Come on at least we can all recognise that, irrespective of political affiliation.