DAA News Network

Sierra Leone: Police attack young disabled people in Freetown

Posted 22/5-11 at 00.00

On Wednesday, May 11th, large numbers of police forcibly evicted about 300 young disabled people, mostly children and young women, from a building they had been living and working in for the last 12 years. It appears the city council wants to sell or rent the building to private tenants.

a group of people some are in wheelchairs, one with crutches

The building was in poor repair and had been abandoned by its owners, who could not be traced. Nonetheless, the government has ignored attempts to regularise the occupancy and instead police have harassed the young people, many of whom used the building for training and the development of small-scale enterprises.

During the violent eviction, police vandalised equipment and household items, broke windows, manhandled some of the disabled youths, used tear gas and fired gun shots. 10 young disabled people were taken to hospital and over 112 treated for minor injuries. The eviction happened despite the fact that court has yet to determine who owns the building. No alternative accommodation and/or compensation was offered by the council .

Aminata Bangura, a single mother and student in the building, said: "We are particularly disappointed in the Ministers of Social Welfare and Youth, who are clearly taking pleasure out of Freetown City Council's ruthless act to deprive us, in the interest of taking money from a private company to occupy the building. The Government is actually putting disabled youths in danger by backing the eviction act and not speaking out against this inhumane act of violent (sic). We are being failed by institutions which are meant to be standing up for us-this is why we need to step up to act and resist."



Editorial comment: Sierra Leone has ratified the UN Convention



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