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Sierra Leone: Journalist goes into hiding to escape presidential detention order

Sierra Leone's president Ernest Bai Koroma is photographed in Freetown, 10 September 2014.
Sierra Leone's president Ernest Bai Koroma is photographed in Freetown, 10 September 2014.

AP Photo/Michael Duff

This statement was originally published on mfwa.org.

Tamba Fanday, the station manager for privately-owned Citizen Radio in Koidu Town, Kono District, in eastern Sierra Leone, is currently in hiding for fear of being arrested and detained under a presidential executive order.

Fanday said there is "an unnecessary and an unjust plan to arrest and detain him for doing nothing wrong in accordance of the laws of the country."

In a statement issued on February 22, 2015, titled "Fear of Unlawful Arrest and Detention: Complaint Against The Sierra Leone Police and Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma," Fanday said that on December 4, 2014, "a list emanated from State House and was handed to the head of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Ibrahim Koroma, directing him to arrest and detain Fanday and some other 33 persons." This list was compiled in October 2014.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice presented the list of 34 potential arrestees to parliament for approval. According to Fanday, the parliament of Sierra Leone had refused to table and debate the list; however, the police had secretly embarked on effecting these arrests in spite of this.

He said this was proven on February 15, 2015, when two Koidu Town residents whose names are on the list were arrested and beaten while the Vice President was visiting the town.

"Meanwhile, there had been ten previous arrests and detention of youths; all from the Kono District," Fanday said.

In an interview with MFWA's correspondent in Sierra Leone, Fanday said he suspected that his current predicament is because of his comments on the arrests of Kano youths. He also said that he had often talked about governance issues on Citizen FM and been accused of sabotaging the government.

This is the second time Sierra Leone President Koroma has ordered the arrest of a journalist. The first incident was on November 3, 2014. In that incident, Dr. David Tam-Baryoh, who is the Director of Citizen Radio was harassed, arrested and detained following presidential orders for criticising the government's handling of the Ebola epidemic and funds. He was released after 11 days following protests and appeals from MFWA and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.

A recent audit report presented to Sierra Leone's House of Parliament on the Ebola Fund proved that Tam-Brayoh's had valid concerns. The audit report shows mismanagement by the government, leading to subsequent attempts by state officials to prevent journalists from discussing it.

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