''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke

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S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 3

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Friday June 3, 2011- The Butcher of Bosnia makes first appearance in court. Says he's gravely ill and actually claps and waves when he's told his rights. Describes charges against him as "obnoxious" and "monstrous".Mladic in the Hague - refuses to take a plea.

The Butcher of Bosnia and we would add the Slayer of Srebrenica and Sarajevo, Ratko Mladic has today Friday 3rd June made his first appearance in court in the Hague where he's facing charges relating to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. While on one hand he wanted to convince the court that he was "a gravely ill" man, the court could not help noticing his excitement and sudden surge of animated activity as he clapped and waved when he was told his rights to have him heard in private rather than facing what he called the world's media. He emphasised that he was a general and that he wanted to clear his name insisting that all he did was to defend his country. At about 10.41am bst (09.41 gmt), after preliminaries involving his court-appointed Yugoslav lawyer the case was adjourned to July 4, 2011. The Butcher has refused to enter a plea, but please do not hold your breath, nor be surprised by his antics in the dock. Do not be surprised if he ends of rejecting the lawyer and wanting to defend himself. They all do if the past is any lesson. That's what justice is all about. His alleged victims were never given an opportunity.


Friday June 3, 2011 - Reports that forces loyal to President Ouattara and ousted former President Gbagbo committed atrocities against the civilian population must be investigated and perpetrators punished. Impunity must never be allowed to triumph.The soldiers in this picture must be identified; the fate of the civilians investigated. Are these two still alive?

The rights group, Amnesty International has in a report released on June 2 stated that forces loyal to President Alassane Ouattara killed more than a hundred after taking control of the commercial capital Abidjan in mid-April this year. The report also blamed armed men loyal to ousted President Laurent Gbagbo of committing atrocities against perceived supporters of their opponents. Human Rights Watch also stated that  "...pro-Gbagbo militiamen killed at least 220 men in the days immediately preceding and following Gbagbo's arrest on April 11, when the nearly four-month conflict drew to a close".

 
One man described how Republican Forces soldiers killed his 21-year-old brother: "Two of them grabbed his legs, another two held his arms behind him, and a fifth one held his head," he said. "Then a guy pulled out a knife and slit my brother's throat. He was screaming. I saw his legs shaking after they'd slit his throat, the blood streaming down. As they were doing it, they said that they had to eliminate all of the [Young] Patriots that had caused all the problems in the country."  Another woman who witnessed the May 8 killing of 18 youths found hiding in Yopougon was brutally raped by a Republican Forces soldier after being forced to load their vehicles with pillaged goods. On May 23, an elderly man in the same neighborhood saw Republican Forces execute his son, whom they accused of being a member of pro-Gbagbo militia.

All those implicated in these killings must be identified, caught, tried and given the appropriate punishment under the laws of the country. The international community must not be seen to be supporting a country and President that gets away with deliberate and planned murder, pillage and rape of civilians - these are crimes of war and must be punished.


Thursday June 2, 2011 - 14 years ago today, a media coup by the human rights-abusing junta is achieved. The international community is almost led into believing that Nigeria had carried out bombing missions in Freetown killing many and wounding untold numbers.

Today June 2, fourteen years ago in 1997, the human-rights-abusing junta of rogue soldiers and the notorious Revolutionary United Front, Dr Abass Bundu - allied himself with the junta and was a willing member of their delegationsthe RUF collectively named as the Peoples Army almost scored a media victory when they made it seem that Nigerian forces had started an invasion of the capital using fighter jets and bombers in the first wave of attacks that were meant to take out the illegal Johnny Paul Koroma junta. It all started that morning when Freetown residents woke up to the sound of heavy guns that seemed to emanate from the sea. The already trigger-happy and jumpy leaders of the "revolution" interpreted this as a signal that the Nigerian forces serving with ECOMOG were on the move to oust them from power and arranged a number of demonstrations in support of the junta with a large chunk of the "junta supporters" forced at gunpoint to join the swelling ranks of those marching in support of the brutal regime and singing songs that called on the international community to stop "the intervention" of Nigeria. Other sources soon put out the word that Nigerian planes had been seen strafing and bombing positions in the capital with a massive loss of lives and property. For those who were on the ground and who saw it all, it was like stating that cheese and chalk were one and the same thing. Nothing of the sort happened and this brief media score could well have emboldened the beasts to try the same tactics on the people of Mabaylla as the junta tried to woo the international community into seeking the removal of ECOMOG forces from Sierra Leone soil. The junta failed...and the rest, as they say, is history.


Saturday May 28, 2011 - Smoke and mirrors President Ernest Bai Koroma in humiliating climb-down as he slashes tariffsSierra Leone's home-grown Goebbels

Sierra Leone's smoke and mirrors President has finally taken his economically-scrawny and democratically-bereft neck from the sands of denial and as a first step slashed tariffs on items that have seen hell on earth created for ordinary Sierra Leoneans. His broadcast, believed to have been made last evening rubbishes previous explanations by his government led by Sierra Leone's version of the Nazi Goebbels, Ibrahim Ben Kargbo of the justification for the price hikes in basic and essential commodities. The broadcast had to be made because of increasing pressure on the government that it either performs of face the rage of the people. Sierra Leoneans were never impressed when the government (read AFRC Mk2) brought in litres as the standard measure for fuel in the hope that they would hoodwink Sierra Leoneans into believing that fuel price had actually gone down. How can you equate a litre to a gallon?!!! The Sierra Herald knows and can confirm that the magician of a President is coming under increasing pressure from the international financial institutions because of the government's poor handling of the economy with massive corruption and lack of democratic governance on the top of the list of inadequacies. I B Kargbo and his President know that Sierra Leone has now been tagged a 3F crisis country. Fuel, Finance and Food. Does this ring a bell? Deny, deny and keep on denying.


Friday May 27, 2011 - The Butcher of Bosnia is declared fit to get his day in court. The Hague is not only about African human rights abusersElise Keppler of Human Rights Watch

The Butcher of Bosnia, Ratko Mladic, the monster who allowed himself and his troops to be photographed as he gave out sweets to Muslim children assuring their parents that nothing untoward was going to happen to them even as he planned the mass murders of all the men and boys has been declared fit to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. For those who cry from the rooftops that the ICC targets African "leaders" only, we would advise that they consult and read many a report on this fallacy. If African governments have the right institutions in place to try human rights abusers and mass murderers, then the ICC will not step in as justice is seen to be served when perpetrators are punished. It is no secret that abuses in Africa are directly or indirectly committed by Africa's "big men" including the heads of the security forces and the Heads of State - and all make it a duty not to try such abusers. There's only one way out for the victims and those wanting to see justice done - an international court that will not be manipulated by governments. Indeed as a Senior Counsel at the rights group, Human Rights Watch, Elise Keppler has pointed out

Complaints by African leaders about the uneven application of international justice would carry a lot more weight if they focused more on ensuring prosecutions for atrocities wherever they are committed, such as by promoting wider ratification of the ICCís Rome Treaty, than impeding the courtís functioning with calls for non-cooperation.

Impunity must never be allowed to succeed.


Thursday May 26, 2011 - 12 noon UK time - 11am gmt - Most wanted war crimes fugitive Colonel General Ratko Mladic arrested - Serbian President Boris Tadic tells the press he was arrested in the country. Says arrest was necessary for "moral dignity of Serbia"

One of the men most wanted for war crimes including genocide and the mass murder of more than seven thousand Muslim males as well as of at least ten thousand civilians during the siege of Sarajevo for three years is now in the custody of the Serbian authorities. Ratko Mladic has been on the run for years even as reports speak of him living within the country and enjoying the protection of some top guns in the country. It is believed that Mladic enjoyed the confidence and protection of a key band of Serb "nationalists" who believed that his vision for a greater Serbia was a noble venture never mind how many got murdered, displaced, raped or dispossessed. Serbian President Boris Tadic promised at the press conference that another notorious war crimes suspect would be hunted down and handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. According to the BBC General Mladic has been indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal over the Srebrenica massacre and disappeared from view when former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was arrested in 2001.

This thing called justice. Her wheels may tend to move frustratingly slowly but they do get there in the end as the beast of Srebrenica has now discovered.


Tuesday May 24, 2011 - The Auditor-General takes a look at the way government money is being accounted for and appears unimpressed as supporting documents fail to materialise. The 2009 report

Mrs Anna Caesar Sierra Leone's former Auditor-General Mrs Anna Caesarcould well be enjoying her retirement benefits if she is rewarded for her dedication to duty as Auditor-General...but before she left this lady, disciplined in the art of looking at government records to see how resources are utilised did all Sierra Leoneans a huge favour - publishing her findings for the year ended 2009. She had to rely on documents presented by the Accountant-General and as she has observed in her notes, in the examination of annual accounts of the government she has to, among other duties verify that

...the accounts have been properly kept; ...all public moneys fully accounted for and the rules and procedures applicable are sufficient to secure an effective check on the assessment, collection and proper allocation of the revenue; ...moneys have been expended for the purpose for which they were appropriated and the expenditures have been made as authorized and that departments or budgetary agencies have adhered to the law relating to procurement.

There are no figures for expenses under the Office of the President, nor is there any for key ministries such as Works, Foreign Affairs/International Relations, Finance, Trade and Industry and Marine Resources and Fisheries. More than 25 state companies including the Road Transport Corporation, Telecommunications, Water and Roads Authority failed to provide reports. The observation below would perhaps give a peep into how rampant thieving goes on within the government

Even though a vehicle (with Registration No l730) had been off the road since 2004, the Secretariat continued to incur expenditure, totalling Le14,977,000.00 and Le19,545,000.00, on fuel and repairs and maintenance respectively in respect of such vehicle.

This and other reports from the Auditor-General's Office can be accessed using this link


Monday May 23, 2011 - Newly-inaugurated Ivory Coast President Ouattara promises reconciliation and an inclusive government but insists that crimes will not go unpunished even if committed by his supportersNewly-inaugurated President Ouattara

The President of Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara has said in a BBC interview that he would be going all out to ensure that peace and reconciliation reigns in his country after months of bitter fighting between forces loyal to him and those of ousted President Laurent Gbagbo. Mr Ouattara said that he would be incorporating members from other political parties nominated by the various opposition parties especially those from the former President. Tom Nyuma in hospital - his attackers enjoy the protection of President KoromaHe however made it clear that names would not be forced upon him and that those accepted to serve in his government had to be of the right calibre and fit in with his idea of good governance. He did not mince his words when it came to justice for the victims. He said that the Ivorian courts would try those cases over which it had jurisdiction, but for very serious cases, would refer the matter to UN investigators with a view to getting the International Criminal Court, the ICC, involved. He vowed that those of his supporters alleged to have committed such crimes would not be protected but would face justice. We hope the authorities in Sierra Leone who played a part in negotiations in Ivory Coast would notice this as President Koroma's government has been allowing impunity over crimes committed by the likes of his chief bodyguard Idrissa Kamara aka Leatherboot who had already been charged to court by the police for crimes committed against Sierra Leonean Tom Nyuma. The death of one Sierra Leonean who was killed on the day Ernest Bai Koroma was declared winner and APC party supporters attacked the SLPP office in Freetown still remains to be investigated.


Sunday May 22, 2011 - Survival Sunday - This is it...Managers in the firing line today Survival Sundaythis is the final day of the one and only English Premiership and as usual three teams must go down even three fresh teams celebrate their promotion to the world's top football league. Already West Ham United are down...and two more will go down this afternoon. Is it going to be Blackpool, Wigan, Blackburn or Birmingham? A nail-biting pre-match already as the permutations are worked out and it is a cruel mathematical computation. Manchester United, already top of the League are the Champions and today they face struggling Blackpool. Should they "sell game" as we know it in Sierra Leone? No way. Even though they have already won the Premiership, they are coming out with a strong, very strong team. It is a weird mathematical conundrum as BBC Sport has noted
For Wigan and Blackpool, even victories in their final games may not be enough to save their Premier League status, depending on results elsewhere; paradoxically, they could lose and stay up.

Survival Sunday is not going to be easy watching for fans affected...but that is the name of the game and join us as all eyes get fixed on the arena. It is the battle of battles to end the English Premier League 2010-2011 season. Good luck to all the teams, managers and fans.

Update: And its all over....with 3 clubs demoted....West Ham (before today), Birmingham and Blackpool are out of the Premiership. Special congratulations to Wigan on their 1-0 win over Stoke. They will be enjoying their 7th successive stay in the Premiership since they made it to the top. Survival Sunday lived up to expectations with all the drama and heart-stopping moments intervening now and again as the battle to stay in the Premiership raged. This is the final table at the end of the 2010-11 season.


Saturday May 21, 2011 - Sierra Leonean drug trafficker Ali Sesay pleads guilty in a US court as his other comrades in crime Chigbo Peter Umeh and Konstatin Yaroshenko are found guilty.Former Transport Minister during cocaine affair now Special Adviser to President Koroma

Ali Sesay, one of eight drug trafficking suspects arrested in Liberia in a sting operation in which the son of Liberia's President was involved has pleaded guilty to charges he was facing in a United States court. A Press Statement from the United States Justice Department stated that

Based on his guilty plea, SESAY faces a minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment.

It will be recalled that Ali Sesay was also a part of the Sierra Leonean drug ring that wanted to set up a drug trafficking, processing and facilitating operation using corrupt government and other officials in these countries. In Sierra Leone a consignment of cocaine was intercepted and destroyed after enforcement officials from the US and the UK in an undercover operation succeeded in trapping South American, West African and other key members of a gang that wanted to set up cocaine governments along the West African coast. It is also to be recalled that when the Lungi airport story broke, the Police were reportedly stopped from arresting then Transport and Communication minister Kemoh Sesay. He was subsequently removed from his post but has recently emerged as a Special Adviser to President Ernest Bai Koroma. It is not yet known just how much Ali Sesay has revealed about other people who have not been arrested so far.


Thursday May 19, 2011 - UK Justice Minister Ken Clarke comes under increasing attack and calls for his resignation as he puts his foot in his mouth over the question of rapeUK Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke - Calls that he be sacked over rape definition

UK Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke is facing increasing pressure and calls that he quit his job after suggesting some rapes are more serious than others. Reports say that though Prime Minister Cameron tried his best to distance himself from the rising tide of calls for Mr Clarke to be sacked and promised to take a good listen to the interview on radio that sparked the furore, media watchers could not help noticing the embattled Justice Minister hopping from one media outlet to another trying to give meaning to what he thought was a misrepresentation of what he'd said - no doubt on the advise of the Prime Minister. But the more he tried to explain himself, the more, it would seem, Mr Clarke had been sinking deeper into the quagmire. One report in the Guardian states -

Clarke, who had initially refused to apologise in a round of TV interviews, wrote to a victim of attempted rape who had broken down in tears when she confronted him on a Radio 5 Live show over his "disastrous" plan. "I have always believed that all rape is extremely serious, and must be treated as such," Clarke wrote. "I am sorry if my comments gave you any other impression or upset you.

But the apology failed to draw a line under the affair, with the main opposition Labour party continuing to question how he could remain in charge of justice policy for the coalition Conservative and Lib Dem.


Saturday May 7, 2011 - Sierra Leone has celebrated 50 years of independence. What happens next and how do we learn from the lessons of the past?President Koroma in true national colours. Refused to make it an APC affair?Sir Milton in a dance with HRH the Queen of the United Kingdom

April 27 - that was the day that was as all Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone, in one way or the other, quietly or boisterously/noisily marked the day fifty years ago when the Union Jack of the occupying power Great Britain was lowered. In its place was hoisted the green, white and blue colours of a newly indepent Sierra Leone. It is true that we did not have to fight a war against the British as the Mau Mau did in Kenya to get our freedom. Using our negotiating skills we somehow managed to secure self government during the Lancaster House talks and it must be noted that the man who has been described as the curse of the nation could well have been incensed that he would not be the first Prime Minister of an independent Sierra Leone and giving one reason or the other refused to sign the necessary articles making us a free nation. Any wonder why he tried to re-invent the history of Sierra Leone and to make April 19 our national day? The management of the celebrations left much to be desired with APC activists wanting to make it an APC party, instead of a national affair. The Sierra Herald congratulates all those who resisted the APC manipulation as well as those within the APC machinery who tried their best to make it a non-APC and a truly national affair. Congratulations. So what now? Kindly listen to the man at the helm of state affairs in our beloved country, the award-winning (that's what his paid yelibahs say) Ernest Bai Koroma in this BBC special Perspective programme for Saturday 30th April on Sierra Leone's 50th as Umaru Fofana hands over the microphone to him. Please save this somewhere on your computer as these jewels are not there forever. After listening, please let us have your reactions. Floreat Sierra Leone!!!!


Monday May 2, 2011 - A great professional, revolutionary and trend-setting fearless journalist is finally laid to rest in the country he so dearly loved - Sierra Leone.The final goodbye to Richie's earthly remains - Photo: Umaru Fofana FB pages

Thousands of mourners have today paid their last respects in the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown to the one and only Richie Olu Awoonor-Gordon who suddenly passed away to the great beyond in London on 4th April 2011. The internment ceremonies were performed today after a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of the departed brother. Before today's final ceremonies, a Memorial Service held at the Walworth Road Methodist Church in south London attracted quite a crowd of distinguished people from all walks of life from all over the United Kingdom and beyond with tributes paid by a number of organisations and individuals to the late man's untiring effort to bring about the kind of change he envisaged for the country that he truly loved - Sierra Leone. A change that would see all Sierra Leoneans benefiting from the country's vast resources; a country where all would be equal before the law and a country where the rule of law and true democracy would reign. He may have left us in the flesh but his spirit lives and it is in that vein that all true independent journalists will continue his legacy - holding the government, any government to account. The Sierra Herald is with the grieving family members and relations who pray that the Good Lord in His mercies will grant Richard William Oluwaseyi Awoonor-Gordon that peace which only He can give. Amen.

RIP


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Tuesday April 12, 2011 - International Day for the Street Child - What have we done to ease the plight of this less fortunate sector of the population?

This day must have been ignored and let to die out in blissful ignorance in a country where the oppressor is now only concerned with the visiting circus of members from the so-called "diaspora" and the small number of the well-heeled, thieving and dishonest local pharaohs and overlords bent on contributing to the road show of the smoke and mirrors President. If they knew about the day and the plight of these children trust them to feign ignorance quite forgetting that these are the same children who help with their luggage when they arrive in town as JC's and who wash their multi-million leone vehicles that ply roads in towns that are still struggling to become a part of the 21st century. Dont be too surprised if they tell you through forked tongues that in fact the country does not have street children ...... that under the great helmsman and leader His Excellency no one goes to bed hungry, all the children in Sierra Leone are well-fed, educated and that each has been provided with bank accounts from the resources of the government's chief bank roller, the convicted drugs offender Vasile Frank Timis of African Minerals - a bloke who now has President Koroma licking from his filthy paws. Thanks to the work of this other non-governmental organisation operating in the country, we do know that street children do exist in Sierra Leone and whose plight must be addressed by the government.


 

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