A one day seminar for district focal persons on the Joint Integrated Elections Security Planning Committee (IESPC), has ended at the Talking Drum Studio at Bathurst Street in Freetown.
The one day meeting which was held last Friday attracted various civil society activists dealing with human rights and elections issues from the twelve districts and discussed a wide range of issues bordering on the November 17 polls, especially on safety and security issues.
In his statement, a Facilitator who is also a specialist in youth issues and the Public Relations Officer of the National Elections Watch (NEW), Mr. Ngolo Katta, said the participation and representation of women, youths and vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities in the decision making processes in both political and public lives has been restricted due to complex safety and security dynamics.
He revealed that these include violence and intimidation that affect women, handicapped and independent candidates that affect their voting rights.
He observed that the Sierra Leon Police (SLP) has shown inconsistency in the discharge of their duties during the electioneering processes, most times because of political pressure on them to be partisan during elections, coupled with a lack of understanding of the legal framework of the entire process.
He also stated that reports of the alleged involvement of Government officials in political intimidation and of Police promotion based on political sentiments and patronage are perceived to impact on and compromise the Police’s performance in ensuring that the electorate abides by the statutory instruments that guarantee the rights of citizens in the process.
He maintained that the key in these challenges is the effective engagement among the security sector actors, especially Office of National Security (ONS), the Police and civil society to elaborate and implement a clear gendered security sector strategy and plan for violence free elections on November 17 this year.
He stressed that monitoring the Police’s treatment of elections related incidents and violence reported to them and engaging with the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), political parties and their District Code of Conduct Monitoring Committees to address and mitigate violence between parties and or their supporters should be highlighted at all times.
Participants who talked to this paper described the seminar as very interesting and educative as they have learned a lot about security and safety issues bordering before, during and after elections.