SLAJ protests injustice
Monday 29th July 2013 – Members of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) strongly condemned the unfair treatment and interference in the judiciary in the criminal libel case against Jonathan Leigh, Editor of the Independent Observer Newspaper.
On his first appearance before Magistrate Seray-Wurie of court No. 2, Jonathan Leigh was granted 50 million Leones bail with 2 sureties, who should present their national I.D. Card, driver’s license, or passport.
The Deputy Master and Registrar demanded both a conveyance and bank statements showing 50 million Leones as bail conditions to be fulfilled by the sureties. This saw Leigh spend the night at Pademba Road prison.
On his second appearance, Leigh wrote an article titled “Bail manipulation costs me 1 night in prison,” and Magistrate Seray Wurie revoked his bail, sending Leigh back to prison.
After another night in prison Leigh’s bail was restored and he was released; but a little later telephone calls were made to the sureties, for Leigh to return to prison because the instructions had been received that Leigh should not be released.
SLAJ President Kelvin Lewis remarked, “this is a clear case of interference in the judicial process, and we must not allow this to go on in this country.” He pointed out that while in jail, several inmates accosted Leigh with similar problems of injustice, “therefore it is not just a case for Jonathan Leigh but for all the people of this country.”
Lewis strongly condemned the “unusually high” bail and “bail conditions;” the use of “arbitrary” powers by Magistrate Seray-Wurie to jail Leigh; and the “obvious interference” to stop Leigh from being released.”
He said, “we must stand up and act against injustice in this country.”
SLAJ therefore calls on the President and the Chief Justice to take steps to put an end to the injustices being meted out to citizens of this country through the bail system as currently being practiced.
SLAJ members have also resolved to write letters of protest to a number of state functionaries and institutions and will be embarking on further protest action to call attention to the injustices being perpetrated through the judicial processes in Sierra Leone.
Signed: Kelvin Lewis
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