By Foday Moriba Conteh
During a Press Conference convened by the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the Sierra Leone Police Head Quarters in Freetown on Tuesday 16th August 2022, the Minister, David Panda Noah disclosed that during the August 10th insurrection, a good number of arrests were made.
He told newsmen: “It will surprise you to know that among those arrested were children or juveniles who are now in the custody of the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police”.
The Minister furthered how they are using various means to identify the parents or guardians of the 18 boys and 6 girls arrested by the Police.
“The ultimate objective of identifying their parent is to assure them that their children are in the safe custody of the FSU and then work out a mechanism of reuniting them with their parents,” he said.
He underscored that the rights of the juvenile have been guaranteed and they will continue to be guaranteed.
The Minister further informed how other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are partnering with them to ensure that the kids could be adequately taken care of as prescribed for by law and other conventions that deal with children.
He continued by telling newsmen that the FSU has compiled the personal details of the children such as names, addresses, and contact numbers of their parents or guardians.
“Family members should have no fear coming forward to identify their children or wards, your safety is guaranteed. That is the more reason why we resolve to have the Ministry of Social Welfare to take the lead in contacting and identifying the parents,” the Minister stated.
He also informed that the juveniles were arrested right across the country where the protest occurred.
Director of Compliance in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ansu Konneh, noted that as the main responsibility of their Ministry is to safeguard the welfare of vulnerable people in the country, including children, they already have the statistics of the 24 children in police custody divulging how they are within the age brackets of 12 to 17.
Konneh said as they are ensuring their welfare are catered for maintaining how they will conduct a thorough assessment to ensure the age each gave is correct.
He also disclosed how they are working with partners such as Don Bosco, UNICEF, and Defence for Children International for admission to the Approved School and Remand Home in order for the children to be sent to the right places.
Konneh added that psychosocial supports are been provided and that they have secured some materials like clothing for the children.
Meanwhile, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Aiah Samadia, on Monday 15 August called on the bereaved families of the six police personnel brutally murdered during the same riots to assist the SLP to identify the perpetrators.
Samadia reiterated President Julius Maada Bio’s statements of making sure that all those responsible for the murder of the police officers face the law.
He said this during a Police Management Board consolatory meeting with the family members of the slain officers.
The meeting also discussed preparation ahead of a State Funeral planned for six officers now known to have died.