• September 19, 2023


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By the end of the day today we will all know why President Julius Maada Bio was invited by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC).The President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, is expected to meet the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan KC today in the margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and Debate in New York City.

President Bio was invited by the ICC prosecutor in a letter that has been widely speculated on. The content of the letter was not friendly, leading many to believe that Mr Bio was being invited for reasons that are within the purview or mandates of the ICC, which is to prosecute human rights abuses, crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, crimes a state commits against its people, among others.

Since Mr Julius Maada Bio took over as President of Sierra Leone in April 2018 the nation has been polarised along tribal, regional and political party lines. The tribal divisions in the country and our peace and security as a state have been under threat by trigger happy police officers who perform as ‘ordered from above’ at scenes of members of the public wanting to exercise their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and protest.Such killings took place in Lunsar, Mile 91, Makeni, Koidu, Pademba Road Prison, on 10th August, 2022 and as recently as Monday, 11th September, 2023. As if they don’t fear the ICC, more citizens were killed by police officers on 11th September including the ruling SLPP party members and supporters, with police putting the number at two, while eyewitness says over eight people killed by armed military and police personnel. Meanwhile, while there is a dispute about the number of dead, there is no disagreeing that citizens died as a result of joint police and military actions at scenes where people were trying to freely exercise their constitutional franchise.

Many people have said in celebration and remembrance of those that were killed on 10th August, 2022, including those that were killed at other such scenes since 2018, Sierra Leoneans living in the US and Europe organised protest actions at the seat of power in those countries and dropped dossiers listing state ordered atrocities or actions against innocent citizens that resulted to their deaths and the destruction of theirs and public properties (several police stations were set ablaze between 10th and 11th  August, 2022).

The president, it is believed, will have a meeting with the ICC team at the UN in New York to discuss these allegations. It is believed that the president will have a case to answer as he is directly responsible for the actions of those he had hired.

However, the real fear about President Bio being called up to the ICC is not necessarily about him, but about whom. It must be recalled that the majority of those that have been prosecuted and are serving jail terms after an ICC hearing were found guilty mostly based on actions of their subordinates. Former President Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor of Liberia is serving time for what happened in Sierra Leone. To the best of our recollection, Charles Taylor never set foot in Sierra Leone during our civil war; neither did he mine any diamond in Kono. But he is in jail for what those who were under him did in Sierra Leone.

It will be the same for President Julius Maada Bio. All the allegations of murder that have been made against Mr Bio are based on what others especially police officers and people like former Deputy Internal Affairs Minister, Lahai Laurence Leema, the chain of command and control of the Sierra Leone Police under the leadership of former and present Inspector Generals of Police, Ambrose Michael Sovula did and William Fayia Sellu is doing across the country.The question now becomes: who will President Bio give up, if he has a case to answer to at the ICC at The Hague?

The whole nation waits with bated breath to see if our president will be the next to face the music at the ICC. 

Credit: Home – Forum News (forumnews-sl.com)

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