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Sierra Leone News: The current state of the judiciary is nothing good to write home-Appointed Chief Justice

The newly appointed Chief Justice, Desmond Babatunde Edwards, yesterday Thursday 20 December 2018, described the current state of the Judiciary as nothing good to write home. He made this disclosure whiles responding to questions asked by the Deputy Leader of the opposition in Parliament Hon Ibrahim Ben Kargbo during the interview session at Committee room one, Parliament building. Justice Edwards said the erstwhile Chief Justice and team have done their bit in addressing the situation “but relatively comparing to what is happening in other countries we are way way behind”, adding it needs to be remedied urgently. “Part of the problem is that the Judiciary has been managed by Lawyers, Lawyers are not managers,” he said, pointing out that managing the case load is different from the judicial and the Administrative function. According to him if the Administrative function is weak, it is obvious things will not work. In the past they have the Master and Register who finds it difficult to operate due to the volume of case load before him. This he said requires Court managers to assist him to handle. He maintained the Court Manager should be responsible to ensure case files are before the Judges and also prevent people who do not have business in the Judiciary to go closer to it. This he said are all the things that give a bad image to the judiciary. Justice Edwards disclosed currently there are people who are requesting monies from someone who might want his or her documents to be certified and such will not happen maybe within a whole year and in most cases those people are not working in the judiciary but it is the judiciary that is blamed. “We need a judiciary where we have the Court function and the judiciary function separate. Now we don’t even have an accountant in the judiciary,” he said Justice Edwards explained that they only have seconded staff from the Ministry of Finance, which is one of the things, which affected the preparation of their budget. He pointed out that they want an Accountant and also a Human Resource manager that will be under the court management team that will be distinct from the judicial management that will comprise the Master and Registrar and all the other Registrars that will be moving cases from one court to another to ensure effective and efficient work. Responding to questions relating to cases that are being delayed in court that was raised by Hon Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, the proposed Chief Justice answered they should reinforce the issue about the monthly report, which requires an automated system. According to him presently they have one automated system that was installed by UNDP for the criminal cases but they need one for both criminal and civil matters that will enable them to know the way cases are going on from start to finish, and they will also be able to monitor the case load of every Judge. He maintained going with the dictates of the constitution could assure and protect the independence and integrity of the judiciary and the Judges, disclosing the Judges Master is the law, “as long as there is a law you go by it.” “The problem we have in Sierra Leone is that everybody is a lawyer’” he said, explaining people interpret sections in the constitution in their own way whiles Judges have a way of interpreting the constitution, citing section 120 subsection 3 that states Judges are subject to the constitution. Justice Edwards pointed out that he had been in the Judiciary for twelve years but disassociates himself from the decision of the removal of the former Vice President Sam Sumana. The Deputy Speaker Hon Segepoh Solomon Thomas vouch for the propose Chief Justice that he will certainly deliver as he knows how passionate he is about the operations of the Judiciary The Proposed Chief Justice agreed with the Leader of the Opposition that for the rule of law, peace and democracy to thrive the judiciary is very much pivotal.

By Alhaji M Kamara

Friday December 21, 2018.


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