Sierra Leone bans jogging in groups to ensure 'safety on the streets'

Ban on jogging comes into immediate effect said Sierra Leone police - file photoThomas Mukoya/Reuters

Sierra Leone authorities have banned jogging in groups on the streets because they say it leads to disruptive behaviour and harms public order. The West African country's police said the ban will ensure safety on the streets.

Runners have been accused of various offences ranging from obstructing traffic to insulting people while they are jogging in a group. There are also reports that organised criminal gangs masquerade as joggers on main roads to carry out crimes.

"Police headquarters has observed with dismay that people are in the habit of jogging in large numbers along the streets with a hint of menace, raining insults, obstructing traffic, pounding on vehicles, playing loud music, and snatching property from other members of public," read a statement issued by the police.

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The communiqué added that the ban on jogging comes into immediate effect and is being enforced "in line with the constitutional consideration for public order and safety". While some have welcomed the move, others have said outlawing activities such as jogging infringes on people's civil liberty.

Those who want to jog on the streets need to obtain prior permission hereafter. However, individuals are free to run in "recreational fields" or on the beach.

"We wish to remind the SLP [Sierra Leone Police] that there are laws that guarantee every Sierra Leonean the right to assembly; therefore they should not be seen acting in a manner that may not be reasonable and justifiable in a democratic Society. We want to kindly appeal to the SLP to find a way to uphold the balance of rights and freedoms with safety and security at the core," said civil rights group, Campaign for Human Rights and Development International.

There is a slight political slant to street jogging, or what is locally known as fun runs, in Sierra Leone as some presidential contenders have organised such activities as part of their campaigns.

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