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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                

Republic of Sierra Leone

Prisons and detention facilities fail to meet basic standards of health and hygiene, and infectious disease is prevalent.

Extrajudicial killings by the police remained a problem in 2017, particularly against people peacefully engaged in protests. Police are rarely held accountable for abuses and killings.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: SierraLeone

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Sierra Leone.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Sierra Leone

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 5 August 2021]


The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them. NGOs reported, however, that security forces used excessive force to manage civil protests in Freetown and provincial town (see section 1.a.).

Impunity remained a significant problem in the security forces, notably in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP). Observers noted police lacked training on crowd control and on human rights topics.


Prison and detention center conditions were harsh and life threatening because of food shortages; gross overcrowding due to an inefficient justice system and a lack of sufficient correctional facilities and personnel; physical abuse; lack of clean water; inadequate sanitary conditions; and a lack of medical care.

Physical Conditions: The country’s 21 prisons, designed to hold 2,375 inmates, held 3,808 as of August. The most severe example of overcrowding was in the Freetown Male Correctional Center, designed to hold 324 inmates, which instead held 1,407 individuals. Some prison cells measuring six feet by nine feet held nine or more inmates.


Pretrial and remand detainees spent an average of three to five years in pretrial detention before courts examined their cases or filed formal charges. In extreme cases the wait could be as long as 12 years.

Sierra Leone: One dead, two seriously injured as security forces open fire on protesting students

Amnesty International AI, 23 March 2017

[accessed 13 January 2019]

The security forces killed one person and seriously injured at least two others as they opened fire on protesting students in the city of Bo today, Amnesty International said.

“This bloodshed and loss of young life is a tragedy and suggests a heavy handed response by the security forces to a student protest,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

Students of Njala University, near the city of Bo, started protesting on Thursday morning against a long-running lecturers' strike which has left their college closed since October 2016. Lecturers have been on strike due to non-payment of salaries by the government. Police say that students did not obtain a permit for the protest today, were burning tires and blocking major roads.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 18 May 2020]


Detention facilities are under strain, with occupancy levels at 216 percent of official capacity as of September 2017. Prisons and detention facilities fail to meet basic standards of health and hygiene, and infectious disease is prevalent.

Extrajudicial killings by the police remained a problem in 2017, particularly against people peacefully engaged in protests. Police are rarely held accountable for abuses and killings. People can report abuse or ill treatment to the Police Complaints, Discipline, and Internal Investigations Department (CDIID) or the Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB), although the effectiveness of these agencies is hindered by resource constraints.

Sierra Leone News: Torture Police accused

Betty Milton, Awoko Newspaper, 14 July 2014

[accessed 14 July 2014]

“At this point a plain clothes man named Isreal then showed me a badge saying that he was a police officer attached to the CID, but who investigations revealed is actually attached to the Integrated Intelligence Service (IIS). So he (Isreal) and Chernor (whose money was allegedly stolen) said I had to give them the money or else they will torture me and take me to police. But I told them that I was not the one and I did not steal any money.”

He went on “so they took me to my aunty’s house (where I had been when I.B. called me to come see him) in search of the money but they did not find the said sum. So they took me again to Tengbeh Town where the incident happened and Israel, Chernor, I.B., Sammy and a guy named Collier started beating me. Israel poured a bucket of water on me and Isreal took a hot electric iron and put it on my chest. They started beating me while I.B. was tearing my body with a razor blade.”

After they had finished torturing him, Ade said they decided to forcefully dump him in a barrel containing water for some time and later they took him out again and started pouring gin, hot rub and pepper spray in his eyes “they took pictures, naked picture of me and posted it in “what’s app” to my friends.”

“They told me if I refuse they are going to inject me with acid and I will be in pain till I die, it was at this point that I said the money was at my house. I did this so that they can take me to my house so that my mother will be aware.”


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

POLICE AND SECURITY FORCES - In April, police killed an unarmed woman, Musu Conteh, and injured at least 11 others when workers at a mining company held a peaceful demonstration against poor working conditions and remuneration. The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone investigated the incident and released its findings in September which included recommendations for criminal investigations and prosecutions. The government initiated a Coroner’s Inquest into the killing but the investigation had not concluded by the end of the year. No one was held to account.

In June, police shot and killed Alieu Sonkoh and Ishmael Kargbo-Sillah in Wellington. A third man was seriously injured. According to the families and community members who witnessed the incident, the unarmed men were part of a neighbourhood watch group who were in the area where police were looking for a vehicle. The President visited the community and set up a Coroner’s Inquest, which closed in July. The results of the investigation had not been made public by the end of the year.

In June, a motorcyclist was shot and killed by police in Goderich when he failed to stop at a police checkpoint. One officer was arrested and charged with murder. The trial continued at the end of the year.

Civil society groups called for an effective independent oversight mechanism to investigate complaints and hold the police to account


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 13 January 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2013]

[accessed 5 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there were reports that security forces beat and raped persons, and that police stole, extorted, and accepted bribes.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 11 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The judiciary has demonstrated a degree of independence, and a number of trials have been free and fair. However, corruption, poor salaries, and a lack of resources threaten to impede the courts’ future effectiveness, and the new president has yet to carry out his pledge to improve prosecutorial independence by separating the offices of justice minister and attorney general. Arbitrary arrests are common, as are lengthy pretrial detentions under harsh conditions. The local human rights organization Prison Watch reported in February 2008 that nearly half of all inmates had not yet been sentenced.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Sierra Leone",, [accessed <date>]