In the verdict, the judge said the State had failed to adduce “weighty” evidence to sustain the allegations against the accused. He added that prosecuting lawyers also were unable to rebut the “alibi” evidence presented by the accused persons.
CARL praised the tribunal for doing justice by the accused persons. “This is great victory for justice”, CARL’s Executive Director Ibrahim Tommy said in response to the verdict. “It is a reminder of the important role an independent court can play in enhancing respect for the rights of all.
We hope this verdict will help provide the soldiers and their families with a sense that justice has been done and bring closure on to this sad chapter in their lives”, Mr. Tommy added.
CARL draws the attention pointed to the clear violation of the rights of all 18 military personnel who were originally arrested by the Government of Sierra Leone in August 2013. Following their arrests, the government held them in detention without arraigning them for nearly eight months instead of the 10-day period stipulated in the Constitution.
“This is a very serious violation which must not be overlooked in a country that prides itself on respect for human rights and rule of law”, said Moses Massa, CARL’s Justice Project Coordinator. “The State, whose responsibility it is to protect the rights of its citizens, cannot be allowed to violate those rights with impunity”, he added.
CARL noted that the Government is always under a continuous obligation to fully respect the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of its citizens.
CARL calls on the government to provide, without delay, compensation to all the victims who were illegally detained for eight months, and to provide both financial and moral support to all of them as they attempt to reunite with their families after two years of painful separation. CARL also urges the government to apologise to the eighteen military personnel, and to take appropriate measures to address any psychological and other health problems they may be suffering before they resume work.
It is time to end impunity at all levels, including for violations committed by the State.