Sierra Leone

Calls for pregnant girls in Sierra Leone to be allowed to attend school

In Sierra Leone, around a third of girls become pregnant before the age of eighteen
In Sierra Leone, one third of girls become pregnant before they reach the age of eighteen, according to human rights groups. They are forced into what is euphemistically called "transactional sex" - in other words, coercion. And if they become pregnant, they are banned from attending school. Now campaigners are taking that ban to a tribunal of Ecowas, the Economic Community of West African States. Chernor Bah, one of the campaigners, explains why this ban should be overturned.

Sierra Leonean students in a Freetown school Credit: José Nicolas/Corbis via Getty Images

Sex worker killed after giving evidence on best friend's murder

Umaru Fofana

BBC Africa, Freetown

A post-mortem is being carried out on a sex worker who was murdered in Sierra Leone after giving evidence in the trial for the murder of another sex worker.

Memuna Jabbie's throat was slit and her naked body was dumped in a mangrove swamp along the Lumley Beach in the west of the capital, Freetown.

Another sex worker was dumped on the same beach almost four years ago.

Then, Hannah Bockarie was gang-raped before she was bludgeoned to death.

Memuna and Hannah were best friends.

They were believed to have been together when Hannah was abducted 2015 and Memuna has been testifying in her murder trial.

Last seen alive on Monday last week, her body was discovered on the following day but the news only came to public attention on Monday.

Her sister, Salamatu Jabbie, says that Memuna had been locked up for initially refusing to testify because she was concerned for her safety but did eventually give evidence.

The police would not comment on the matter saying only that they were busy putting their facts together.

First lady explains why she won't campaign on FGM

Fatima Maada Bio
Getty Images

Sierra Leone's first lady, Fatima Maada Bio, has defended her decision not to campaign on female genital mutilation (FGM), describing it as "a controversial subject that I'm trying to really remove myself from".

Ms Maada Bio, who is a passionate advocate for women's rights including early marriage and rape, said that as a "circumcised woman" herself, she has not seen enough evidence to campaign on the subject.

"It's not like I am not passionate about it, it's just that I don't know much about it," she told BBC Focus on Africa.

She said she has been circumcised since she was a child and does not know what life is like otherwise.

She said that neither of her two daughters are circumcised, not because she does not believe in the practice, but because they are scared of injections and pain.

Why this woman flew thousands of miles to help a retired doctor

He paid the fee for an emergency Caesarean in Sierra Leone, more than two decades ago
Catherine Conteh has travelled all the way from Australia to the UK to help Keith Thomson, a retired doctor, recover from a major operation. 
More than two decades ago, he helped Catherine, who was a pregnant teenager in need of an emergency Caesarean section, in Sierra Leone. He decided to pay for the required $89.00 fee, which was then equivalent to a year’s salary in the war-torn country. This gesture saved her life, and her baby's. 
Catherine spoke to Newsday from Perth in western Australia, where she now lives. 

(Picture: Catherine Conteh and Dr Keith Thomson. Credit: Catherine Conteh)
Ebola treatment centre graphic

As fears grow that Ebola could spread to other parts of the globe, we look at what is being done on the ground in West Africa to treat those infected

Read more

Sierra Leone police use tear gas against demonstrators

Opposition supporters and the police have clashed in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown.

Our reporter Umaru Fofana is at the scene at the headquarters of the All People's Congress (APC) and told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that armed riot police formed a ring around the building and fired tear gas canisters.

Hundreds of APC members and supporters were trapped at the headquarters where they had assembled following a high court verdict which found nine of the APC MPs elected last year were to lose their seats due to procedural irregularities.

The APC had previously declared 30 May and 31 May as "red days" and had called its supporters to dress in red - the official colour of the party - to protest against the political situation in the country.

Our reporter spoke to the APC secretary-general Osman Foday Yansaneh, who expressed disgust "at the reign of terror" being unleashed on his party, with police firing tear gas inside the building. Mr Yansaneh said some of their party leaders had been arrested.

Police told the BBC that they were provoked by APC supporters but declined to comment further.

Some Twitter users published videos of police using tear gas:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
Sierra Leone: What is life for the prostitutes of Freetown?
Two prostitutes who work on the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone, tell their stories.

Sierra Leone ex-president in bodyguard row

Umaru Fofana

BBC Africa, Freetown

Sierra Leone's former President Ernest Bai Koroma
Getty Images
Ernest Bai Koroma says he received no warning about the removal of his security detail

Sierra Leone's former President Ernest Bai Koroma - who stepped down last year after serving the maximum two terms in office - says he feels unsafe after being left without state security details.

Regional army and police chiefs in Mr Koroma's home town of Makeni told him last week that his guards, numbering in their dozens, were being replaced with another contingent.

Mr Koroma says he received no prior warning and called the move "suspect, faulty and disrespectful".

But Information Minister Mohamed Rahman Swaray has dismissed the complaint as "much ado about nothing" and merely a "routine change" as part of the guards' "all-round career development".

"He is without guards not because the state has refused him one. It is of his own choosing - that he does not want the guards assigned to him," Mr Swaray adds.

It comes amid tension between the ruling SLPP party and the opposition APC, which Mr Koroma still leads. Three judge-led commissions of inquiry are investigating allegations of state plunder under Mr Koroma's APC, which the party rejects as politically motivated.

A Pan-African engineering corps to build infrastructure?

Former president of Sierra Leone plans to recruit soldiers from across Africa
The former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, is hoping to recruit soldiers from across Africa to create an African engineering corps.

Some of the most significant infrastructure in America was built by the US army corps of engineers - from the country’s first roads through to the Kennedy Space Centre. The former president believes a similar peacetime military operation could help to accelerate infrastructure building across the continent.

In his first interview since leaving office a year ago Mr Koroma met Newsday’s Alex Ritson at the Horasis conference in Portugal.

(Photo: Ernest Bai Koroma at the Horasis conference in Portugal. Credit: BBC)