“The baby’s mum was jailed for allegedly stealing a hand bag plus Le 750,000” AdvocAid
By Alpha Kamara
The Sierra Leone police media unit has confirmed that it is investigating circumstances that led to the death of a toddler in one of their detention facilities outside Makeni, in the North. The 17 months old baby died on Monday Dec. 27th at the Panlap police station, two miles from Makeni.
According to the mother of the child, Kadiatu Koroma, she was arrested from her residence few weeks ago on allegations of stealing a hand bag with Le 75,000 or $75. “The police officers met me cooking lunch for my kids. They arrested me and took me to the station where I was locked up with my suckling baby,” she said.
In the police detention, Kadiatu said, her child got sick and asked the officers to allow her to take the baby out (under their watch) for treatment. But her request was rejected on flimsy grounds. “My baby’s condition got worse. I shouted, hit the door after my baby had a convulsion inside the prison. Nobody came to my rescue. The officers only came after my baby died upon hearing my loud cry,” she said in tears.
Police media officer Ins. Brima Kamara says they are investigating the officers involved. “The local unit commander, the crime officer, the investigator and the female officer on duty are all being investigated to answer to questions on this sad occurrence. We will put them on suspension to allow complete access to the investigation,” he added.
Meanwhile, women’s rights group AdvocAid has in a statement, condemns the incident and called for speedy investigation. “AdvocAid condemns the death of a 17 months old baby in a police detention center in Makeni. We want the police to immediately and unconditionally release the mother and calls for an independent police investigation,” the agency said.
AdvocAid also calls on the police and the government in general to review their laws and stop jailing children when their mothers are in conflict with the law.
As investigation continues, Kadiatu Koroma has also denied the theft allegation and is calling for justice from the country’s judiciary system.