On 6 February 2020, the ECOWAS Court seating in Abuja, Nigeria, heard the matter of two Ebola survivor healthcare workers and the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law-Sierra Leone (CARL-SL) who sued the Government of Sierra Leone for violating Sierra Leoneans’ Rights to Life and Health due to the “MISMANAGEMENT of Emergency and Relief funds” which greatly undermined the response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
In 2015, the Sierra Leone Audit Service reported significant mismanagement and possible loss of funds meant for Sierra Leone’s Ebola response. According to the Audit report, this led to “a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the health sector.” These claims were re-echoed in the 2018 Government Transition Report and adopted as an official position of President Bio’s Government.
In 2017, two Ebola survivors (both healthcare workers) and the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law-Sierra Leone (CARL-SL) filed a suit against the Government of Sierra Leone before the ECOWAS Court claiming that rights the mismanagement and possible loss of funds which affected the Ebola response led to a violation of their to life and health. The Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors, the umbrella organization for Ebola survivors, has taken steps to join the suit as a fourth plaintiff.
In July 2018, the Government of President Bio informed the ECOWAS Court and the Applicants that it wished to settle the matter out of court. However, in November 2019, the Government filed a defense to the action, effectively joining issue with the complainants.
By filing a defense brief, the government has undermined settlement talks —having in the past informed the plaintiffs and ECOWAS Court, orally and in writing, that it wishes to settle this matter out of court. Survivors and persons affected by Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, still deal with lots of post-Ebola related health complications, and that they are being ignored/abandoned. By: Peter Quaqua
Main Photo: Ecowas Court Judges