15th January, 2020
We, the undersigned civil society leaders in Sierra Leone, are deeply concerned about the arrest of Henry P. Costa, the leader of Liberia’s Council of Patriots, who was travelling to the United States of America via Sierra Leone’s international airport. While the Government of Sierra Leone has not provided any public statement on the reasons for his arrest, we have been reliably informed that Mr. Costa was arrested reportedly on the orders of the Liberian government.
As of now, we are not aware of any charges being preferred by the Liberian government against Mr. Costa, and we believe that the only reason the Government of Liberia is pursuing him is because of his leadership role in the 30th December 2019 nationwide protest in Liberia. We believe that Mr. Costa’s right to demonstrate is guaranteed under both Liberian and international law, and we strongly condemn the Liberian government’s attempts to punish him for exercising his right.
In light of the above, we urge the Government of Sierra Leone to immediately release Mr. Costa and allow him to travel to the United States of America or his preferred destination. We further urge the Government of Sierra Leone to reject any extradition request from the Liberian government as we are reliably informed that if extradited to Liberia, Mr. Costa will be severely tortured by the Weah administration.
The Sierra Leone Government has an obligation under both national and international law to protect human rights, and should not be seen as facilitating the abuse or violation of such rights. Should the Sierra Leone Government extradite Mr. Costa to Liberia, it will be equally blamed for any abuses or violations to which he may be subjected. This will certainly have far-reaching implication for Sierra Leone’s human rights credentials and its international image.
1. Campaign for Good Governance
2. Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law
3. Human Rights Defenders Network
4. Partnership for Justice
5. Network Movement for Democracy and Human Rights
6. Campaign for Human Rights and Development International
7. Amnesty International