Fatmata is a young secondary school girl, around 18 years old, who is currently being held in police custody at Magburaka Police Station, Northern Sierra Leone. She has been held since 3 December 2013 without charge, way over the 10 day constitutional time limit.
Fatmata was first arrested in February 2013 and charged with the murder of a relative. She was later detained in Magburaka Prison and represented by AdvocAid’s Makeni Duty Counsel, Benedict Jalloh. The Prosecution was unable to obtain an autopsy report on the Deceased and therefore could not proceed with their case. As a result, on 3 December 2013, Fatmata was discharged by Honourable Magistrate Gooding at Magburaka Magistrate Court. He held that the Prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case during the preliminary investigation stage.
As soon as Fatmata left the court, thinking her ordeal had ended, she was re-arrested for the same offence and detained yet again in Magburaka Police Station. She is being detained whilst the Prosecution try and arrange for the necessary autopsy report She has been detained for 20 days without charge, well over the 10 day constitutional time period, and it is not clear when or if she will be charged. It is challenging for AdvocAid to file a habeus corpus application as the High Court had gone on circuit to Port Loko and the Christmas period is approaching when the Courts do not sit.
AdvocAid have been engaging the Magburaka Police, Makeni State Counsel, Director of Public Prosecutions, the Inspector General of Police as well as the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone.
We urge the Magburaka Police to discharge Fatmata or put her on bail given that they have exceeded the lawful detention time period and considering that the Magistrate discharged the case for lack of evidence. The Prosecution has had ample time to gather evidence in this matter and a young school girl should not suffer and have her rights violated because the Prosecution has failed to gather the necessary evidence.
Fatmata’s life was suddenly stopped over 10 months ago when a close relative died. She has been in detention for over 10 months. We respectfully ask the Inspector General of Police and Director of Public Prosecutions to assist in ensuring that this young girl be freed and be reunited with her family for Christmas. We encourage our fellow civil society activists to monitor the situation and intervene as appropriate.
AdvocAid is a civil society organization that provides access to justice and strengthened rights for girls and women in conflict with the law in Sierra Leone.
Head Office: 39 Upper Brook Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone,
+232 33 572526