State Of Emergency Laws Next Week

With all the countries facing the coronavirus threat having rushed into legislating appropriate new laws to fight or ward off the disease from their countries, Members of Parliament unanimously approved the Public State of Emergency declared by President Dr. Julius Maada Bio on Tuesday 24th March, 2020 after two days of heated debate.

Making the proclamation, President Bio told the nation that by the authority vested in him under Subsection 1 of Section 29 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, Act No. 6 of 199, he was of the opinion that the coronavirus disease which is a highly infectious disease that has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation constitutes a public emergency of international concern.

Since it poses great risk to human life and can cause enormous socio-economic disruption in Sierra Leone, the government requires effective measures to prevent, protect, and curtail its spread in Sierra Leone.

While Parliament has endorsed the declaration, it has also called on the executive arm of government (MDAs) to within two weeks from its endorsement provide clear rules and regulations guiding the Public State of Emergency for parliamentary approval to become legally binding.

The Chief Whip in Parliament, Hon. Hassan Sesay noted that the binding rules are the preventive measures announced recently by different MDAs as preventive measures for keeping the COVID-19 at bay, noting that most of the regulations are already in force.

They include a temporal ban on congregational prayers, not more than one hundred people assembling, time limit on trading activities, and decongestion of public transports, among others.

Hon. Hassan Sesay and the SLPP Leader in Parliament, Hon. Nyuma have said Parliament would debate and approve these rules or policies for a period of three months (90 days) days before they would be revisited by Parliament for an extension or revocation, depending on whether the corona virus threat continues. It will require a 2/3 majority of MPs in attendance to pass the rules and regulations into law.

Meanwhile, whilst the President reaffirmed his government’s determination to do everything necessary to protect the life of every Sierra Leonean, he stated that the emergency was not a lockdown and that nobody must use this as an excuse to hoard goods, hike prices, or engage in acts of lawlessness.

Stating that this public emergency is not meant to make the lives of Sierra Leoneans difficult or unbearable, President Bio said government will continue to deploy the armed forces and Police, as necessary, to enforce compliance with all public health directives.