News / Africa

Remedies Offered After Deadly Sierra Leone Mine Violence

Human Rights Watch has released a report on human rights abuses and development in Sierra Leone. The report looks at African Minerals, a London-based iron ore mining company. In 2012, workers of the company in Sierra Leone held a strike and a protest, demanding better working conditions, better pay and the right to form their own union. Armed police intervened, the end result being one person shot dead and several injured.  
 
The strike happened in a town called Bumbuna, north of Freetown, the country's capital.

According to the Human Rights Watch report, it was a peaceful protest but police used tear gas and ammunition to stop it.

One woman, Musu Conteh, was shot and killed, allegedly by police, during the chaos.

Rona Peligal, the deputy director for the African division of Human Rights Watch, is the author of the report, which offers recommendations to government, African Minerals and police to prevent a similar event from happening.

She says more needs to be done to train officers on how to deal with stressful situations without resulting in death.

"What are the rules governing the police working for private firms for example or what are the rules about how police can engage protesters, peaceful protesters," she said.

The 96-page report also recommends disciplinary action against the police officers allegedly responsible for the Bumbuna abuses.

Francis Munu is inspector general of the Sierra Leone police. He says he appreciates the report but not enough dialogue happened between Human Rights Watch and the police before bringing forth the recommendations.

"Although I had hoped that there would've been better collaboration, consultations and discussion before coming up with these recommendations so that the recommendations would've been more reflective of the Sierra Leone police point of view.  However, we still look at them and will take them into good part," he said.

Munu also says the police are being targeted and did what they felt was right at the time.

"They [police] handled it in their own way, even though people have quarrels in the way they handled it," he said.

Peligal says there have been some improvements since the strike. Police did apologize for their actions.

African Minerals gave workers a 400 percent salary increase but more needs to be done for those who were displaced in Bumbuna.

She says people were moved because African Minerals needed to mine for the iron ore around their homes. Many of them are farmers who have lost their livelihoods.

She said, "They didn't really get enough money from their previous holdings, to support themselves now, nor can they farm, nor have they gotten jobs at the company, so economically they are struggling much more than they thought they would, according to what they were told by the company and the paramount chief prior to the relocation."

Human Rights Watch also concludes that rules regarding land ownership are too vague in Sierra Leone.  

Peligal says, "We are also seeing signs of conflict in other parts of Sierra Leone concerning whether paramount chiefs have the ability to lease land, what consent of population means and who benefits from those land deals and who does not and I think these are very important questions for Sierra Leone's government to address."

She says a recommendation for the government is to allow African Minerals workers to form their own union, and for the company to hold human rights impact assessments for all operations.

Representatives from African Minerals and the Sierra Leone government were not available for comment but do have plans to meet with Human Rights Watch this week in Freetown to discuss the report.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid