The Supreme Court Of Sierra Leone Has Delivered Judgment With Regards To Freedom Of Movement On Elections Day

By Francis Turay

The Supreme Court, presiding was Justice Browne-Marke (JSC), Justice Eku Roberts (JSC), and Justice Glena Thompson (JSC) in the case of Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah versus The Inspector General of Police.

If we can recall, in 2018 during the period of the general elections, the Sierra Leone Police through the Inspector General’s Office, issued a press release restricting the movement of people on Election Day. There were many campaigns against such a decision by the IGP, one of which was from a very renowned legal practitioner, whose name has been synonymous with the advocacy of human rights, democracy, and the constitution (Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah). He filed a petition to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone asking for the determination of the freedom of movement, which is one of the fundamental human rights which every Sierra Leonean must enjoy without any regard to race, political party, religion, ethnic group and is enshrined in our constitution being an entrenched clause.

In its judgment, the Court has ruled that;

It was unconstitutional for the IGP to have restricted the movement of people on Elections Day by the issuance of a public notice which was done without an authority from Parliament, which can be An Act or a Statutory Instrument.

Restricting the movement of citizens on Elections Day amounts to the suppression of voters and that very public notice by the IGP contravenes section 18 of the 1991 Constitution, which makes provision for Freedom of Movement. In that vein, it was seen that the IGP was attempting to amend the said section and which in itself is a contravention of section 108(8) of the Constitution and is tantamount to treason as provided in section 108(7).

Summarily, the Court held that if the Police want to restrict the movement of citizens on Elections Day, it should be done through an Act of Parliament, Statutory Instrument, or Constitutional Instrument as the Constitution therein provides.

Note: Citizens should be aware that other than legal practitioners, the law confers the right on them to institute actions in court, especially the Supreme Court when it has to do with infringement of our fundamental human rights and contravention of the 1991 Constitution and such conferment is encapsulated in section 28 and section 127 of the Constitution respectively.

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