FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Freetown, Sierra Leone
17 August 2022
Appeal for the release and reintegration of children arrested and detained during the August 10th violent protest that took place in some parts of Sierra Leone.
Defence for Children International Sierra Leone condemns the involvement of children whether directly or indirectly by adults in the violent protest that took place in some parts of Sierra Leone on 10th August 2022. This resulted in the arrest and detention of at least 38 children (28 boys and 10 girls) in different parts of the country. In Freetown, 24 children (18 boys and 6 girls), in Makeni, 5 children (3 boys and 2 girls), in Kamakwe 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls) and in Magboruka 5 boys are currently in detention at various police stations and at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Sierra Leone Police headquarter in Freetown.
Noting that both articles 7 and 8 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child provide for the right of the child to freedom of expression and association respectively, children’s engagement in protest established by the articles mentioned above should be self-driven and done in a child-friendly environment without being subjected to any adult pressure or influence.
Whilst Article 22 (2) obligates state parties including Sierra Leone to take all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities and refrain in particular from recruiting a child, article 22 (3) obligates state parties to take all feasible measures to ensure the protection of children who are affected by armed conflict, tensions and strife.
These articles appeal to governments to consider children in such situations as victims who have suffered from protection systems failure at family and community level. Thus, special measures should be taken to handle their cases considering their best interest and context rather than subjecting them to criminal prosecution, which may only worsen their situation.
DCI is therefore appealing to the government of Sierra Leone to ensure that child-friendly procedures suggested by the General Comment No. 24 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, and the African Guidelines on Action for Children in the Justice System adopted by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child and national child friendly procedures are followed in dealing with the cases of the children and where possible they should be unconditionally released upon given warning and education on the implications of their actions.
DCI also calls on the government to ratify the Optional Protocol 3 to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure and ensure that there are sufficient and accessible child friendly mechanisms established for children to seek redress, express their views including exercising their right to protest without being subjected to any harm, and are given sufficient education to understand what protest means, why to do it and how to do it.
For more information, please contact us on: +23231108332 or +23279987571
Read the full press release here: #1PR_DCI SL_protests