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Sierra Leone News: Judiciary presents Bail policy to SLAJ

As a way to raise public awareness on the bail policy, the Judiciary of Sierra Leone on Thursday 20th December 2018 presented educational materials on the bail policy to the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Kelvin Lewis. The education materials, according to the Judiciary spokesperson, Moses Kamara, is to increase public understanding of the policy and to ensure that bail becomes matter of rights and not at the discretion of Judges or Magistrates. Kamara further pointed out that bail policy is part of the reformation process of the Judiciary to address overcrowding in correctional centres. Kamara stated, “For offenses which carry a maximum term of imprisonment if found guilty, of less than five years, such as insulting conduct or language, intimidation, criminal trespass and other minor Public Order Offences under the Public Order Act of 1965 and minor traffic offences under the Road Traffic Act, 2007, bail should be given. “The Court must ensure and do all it could to put on bail any person under the age of eighteen years, accused person who is seriously sick, has physical and mental disabilities, pregnant women, lactating mothers or breastfeeding mothers, a man or a woman who is responsible for looking after his/her children in the home” Kamara said. On exceptional offences, he added, there are certain offences where the above are not a matter of rights but matters of the law and the discretion of judge. He continued that offences that carry the death penalty like Murder, Treason, Robbery with Aggravation and Robbery with Violence, bail can be granted only by a judge and in a situation where he/she has verified beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused person(s) is not a flight risk and could appear in Court when required. Highlighting the forms of security that may be accepted by the Court, Kamara said the Court may at its discretion and only in the case of offences involving loss of money, the accused may pay an amount to the Court determined by the Court not exceeding the amount stolen, travelling documents, title deed to real property, National Identity Card, voters, NASSIT, ID, bank statement, utility bills and in non-urban centres with testimonial from an authority in the community. Welcoming the policy on bail issues, Kelvin Lewis said the issues are not only pertinent for journalists but also for the public adding that when bail is refused it becomes a human rights issue. Lewis described the initiative as impressive stating SLAJ commitment to educate the public on the said policy.

SV/20/12/18

By Sylvia Villa

Friday December 21, 2018.

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