Sierra Leone: Government sued over mishandling of Ebola’s funds

LONDON, UK –While the world lends support in terms of resources and comfort when the dead Ebola virus hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, governments in the three countries are accused of not doing a good job in responding.  The allegation of corruption has flooded several investigative reports and audits’ findings regarding the donated Ebola funds.

This week, two Sierra Leone health workers who endured Ebola crisis are litigating their government for purportedly mishandling funds during the spate.

The two Ebola survivors are said to be blaming a lack of resources provided by the government for their contamination and for the demises of several of their co-workers, according to a lawsuit. In their legal claims, the two health workers maintain that the government’s maladministration of funds violated the plaintiffs’ “right to life and health.”

In 2013, Guinea was the first to experience and report the Ebola epidemic.  The lack of control and cross-border migration made the virus to spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone the following year.  The report says more than 3,000 people died in Sierra Leone and more than 11,300 died worldwide, mostly in those three West African countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

  • Image result for CDC Ebola Sierra Leone

The health workers are therefore legally taking their government to the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court in Abuja, Nigeria for damages. Analysts say the two health workers are emboldened by a recent ruling in a case (ECOWAS Court voids sack of Sierra Leonean Vice President) by the same court involving Sierra Leone’s sacked vice president Sam Sam-Sumana versus the Government of Sierra Leone in which the vice president was the victor.

According to the mandate establishing the ECOWAS court, its rulings are legally binding, but some past judgments have, in implementation, been disregarded by some member countries.

The lawsuit for the health workers was legally prepared and supported by Sierra Leone’s Center for Accountability and Rule of Law, which also helped bring the case to court.

Ibrahim Tommy, the group representative said: “Sierra Leoneans have repeatedly demanded accountability and justice for the mismanagement of Ebola response funds, but their demands have fallen on deaf ears.”

The plaintiffs in the case are said to be seeking monetary payments, a byline that their rights were violated, and the establishment of a national commission to examine civil and criminal liability from the alleged corruption of the Ebola funds.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.
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