Ebola used as threat against human rights defender in Sierra Leone

August 29, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped reports that  on 28 August 2014, human rights defender Mary Conteh [national coordinator for Women’s Centre for Good Governance and Human Rights (WOCEGAR) in Sierra Leone] received a call from an unknown number where the caller threatened to spread false information that she contracted Ebola if she does not stop her human rights work. This comes just two days after she recorded a statement  with the police denouncing threats pronounced against her as a result of her recent investigation on reports of misuse of public funds.  On 24 August, she had visited the office of Mr. Osman O. Sesay, who represents the constituency in which WOCEGAR is located, to inquire about reports suggesting that the grant assigned to his constituency had not been used for its original purpose. The member of parliament reportedly argued that the fund was placed on a personal account and that he was not accountable to any member of the local human rights groups. As the discussion proceeded, he reportedly started hurling insults at her and eventually threatened that he could make her disappear.

(In early August 2014, Mary Conteh and her colleagues received information that members of the Sierra Leonean parliament had each received from the government a grant estimated at US$20,000 for the purpose of fighting the outbreak of Ebola in their respective constituencies.)

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