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Sierra Leone News: Bar Association resolves Chief Justice must go

umu Hawa Tejan JallohThe Sierra Leone Bar Association, the professional body of lawyers has finally waded into the issue of the tenure of office of the Chief Justice.
At an extraordinary general meeting held on Friday 14th November the lawyers apparently discussed the issue which has been making the headlines over the past weeks, with letters flying between the office of the Anti Corruption Czar who first highlighted the issue and the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who replied with his own interpretation.
After deliberations, the SL Bar Association resolved that “by section 137 subsection 2 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991, Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, which includes the holder of the office of the Chief Justice shall retire upon attaining the age of 65 (sixty five) years, save for an extension of not more than 3 (three) months, to enable such a Judge to deliver judgement or do any other thing in relation to proceedings that were commenced before the said Judge previously thereto.”
This position is consistent with the interpretation put forward by the Anti Corruption Czar but which is contrary to the interpretation offered by the Attorney General.
Furthermore the S.L Bar Association also resolved that “section 136 subsections 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, which make provisions for granting of ‘contracts’ to Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature after attaining the age of 65 (sixty five) years do not apply to the holder of the Office of the Chief Justice as he/she is the office holder empowered by the said Constitution to advise the President on the grant of such ‘contracts’ and so cannot be seen advising the President on the grant of such a ‘contract’ to herself.”
This in effect means that the present Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh should have retired and further that she is not in a position to be contracted by the President because ethically she cannot advice the President to contract her for an extension.
As a senior lawyer told Awoko “it is now up to President Koroma to do the right thing and save the integrity of the justice system because as it stands the present Chief Justice has no legal status again.”
Thursday November 20, 2014

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