The entire members of the Association of Sierra Leonean Journalists in Exile (ASALJIE) in Australia hereby strongly condemn the recent brutal attack by personnel of the Sierra Leone Police against our colleague, Edmondson Sonny Cole, who was on a press assignment in Sierra Leone. Sonny Cole was viciously manhandled by the police and locked up in the country’s notorious maximum prison, Pademba Road Prisons, on April 28 this year (the day following Sierra Leone’s Independence celebrations) while he was covering a fracas between two groups of mask-dancers in the capital, Freetown. Through this dastardly act of the police, Sonny Cole sustained some bodily injuries and his personal press paraphernalia were confiscated by the police (including his video camera, SD cards, mobile phones, a pair of glasses, watch, etc.). Before Sonny Cole left Australia for press duties in Sierra Leone, a number of letters were exchanged between the journalists association in Australia and the Sierra Leone government authorities for permission to be granted for Sonny Cole to carry out his press assignment without hindrance. This permission was granted and ASALJIE was given assurances that our colleague would be protected against hooligans and bandits. Ironically, the very people who should have protected him now became his harassers. Once again, we emphatically condemn the brutal act of the police and we are calling on the Sierra Leone government to bring to justice the people responsible for this cowardly and morally reprehensible act. We also demand that all, not some, of Sonny Cole’s lost personal property be returned to him unconditionally.
Chairman, Association of Sierra Leonean Journalists in Exile (ASALJIE)