New Magistrate Court for Freetown
In an effort to address the difficulties and shortfalls in the justice system in Sierra Leone, the Justice Sector Development Programme (JSDP) funded by DFID and managed by the British Council has almost completed the construction of a new magistrate’s court in a bid to ease the unprecedented case congestion in magistrate courts in Freetown.
This new facility is located at Pademba Road near the Pademba Road Maximum Prison. The facility, it is hoped, will also contribute in easing the tedious task of transporting prisoners to and from court sittings.
The Communication Coordinator at JSDP, Charles Okafor, last week informed Sierra Express Media that the key partner in the project is the Ministry of Justice. Giving the rationale and background for the project, the Communication Coordinator said much of the infrastructure and equipment belonging to the justice sector was destroyed during the gruesome and destructive war in the country. Anything that was saved, she continued, is in a very deplorable condition.
On the rationale, Okafor said, the Central Court building in Freetown is over crowded with many cases that have not been dealt with; having great cost on the prisons’ service in the country as jails get over crowded.
Okafor said, “In doing this, the Justice Sector Development Programme aims at providing access to justice for the poor, and the provision of the new Magistrate Court is the start to the many programmes the JSDP has for the improvement of the justice sector in the country.
The new Magistrate’s Court she said will serve many purposes ranging from the expediting of trial cases of law offenders, the reduction in the cost of transportation of prisoners to and from the main law courts building in central Freetown and strengthening of the operations of the rule of law in the country.
According to JSDP construction staff, the schedule will be completed in September 2009. Findings reveal that the court will also serve the Juvenile Court system in the country.
Besides the almost completed court project on Pademba Road, JSDP also hope to build prison officers’ quarters for Prison Officers in Magburaka, Kambia, Kabala, a women’s prison facility in Kenema that will soon be completed. Prison and prison officers’ quarters at Mattru Jong in Bonthe have been completed.
Henry earlier revealed that the Western Area Magistrate’s Court is the largest of the 17 projects JSDP has undertaken in the country; costing a total of 3 million pounds sterling allocated to provide a range of buildings and equipment across the justice sector framework and also enhancing the capacity of improved service delivery in the country.
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