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COI recommendations… CHRDI calls for fair implementation

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has welcomed the release of the White Paper on the Commissions of Inquiry because of the believed that accountability framework is a combination of structural processes.

In an exclusive interview with Modern Series at his Pademba Road office in Freetown, CHRDI Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma called on the government to ensure fairness in the process of recovering stolen funds from public officials, who served in the last administration.

He also urged that those that will be seeking redress in the Appeals Court should have a fair trial so that people would not tag the process as a ‘witch-hunt’.

“What we are calling for in the implementation of the White Paper is fairness and we want it to be people centered interest. It should be in the best interest of people of this country and it is on their behalf such move should be done,” he said.

On September 24, 2020, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Y. Brewah presented the government White Paper on the COI to President Julius Maada Bio at State House.

The government accepted almost all the recommendations proffered in the three reports of the COI and the president assured full implementation of the White Paper.

According to Mr. Fatoma, it would be of grave concern to them as a human rights organization if the process is not fair and also go against the right of the people.

He stated that because public accountability is the corner stone of democratic system, leaders need to be accountable and that government should provide the right information that citizens will use to hold those serving in public offices accountable in their communities.

“We want to see the reconciliation of stolen funds that will be retrieved from past government officials into to the communities so that those deprived will have access to it through the implement of projects that will benefit them,” Mr. Fatoma urged.

With regards the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) referring to the white paper as illegal, Mr. Fatoma said: “The main opposition has been a joke and mockery around this whole exercise. They are really playing with the people’s feeling in this country. They first inform the people that they are not going to participate in the COI process because as far as they know it is not credible and lacks all the elements that it supposed to have to constitute a commission of inquiry but senior party members send their legal representatives to the COI. This brings confusion as to where they stand with the exercise.

The three Commissions of Inquiry were established by Constitutional Instruments Nos. 64, 65 and 67 of 2018 to carry out thorough, independent, fair and impartial investigations into the allegations of corruption and abuse of public office by ministers and other public officials in the past administration.

They started their work in 2019 and submitted their report, which included findings and recommendations to President Bio in March 2020.

A total of 126 persons of interest were investigated by the Justice Biobele Commission of Inquiry with eighty-four (84) public officials, including former President Ernest Bai Koroma indicted. Billions of leones were found to have been misappropriated or embezzled by members of the past administration.

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