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Law Officers’ Department of the Ministry of Justice hosts workshop on its operations

Law Officers’ Department of the Ministry of Justice hosts workshop on its operations

The Chambers of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, in collaboration with the Justice Sector Coordination Office (JSCO), is hosting a workshop on the Operations of the Law Officers’ Department, on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th June 2010 at the Hotel Barmoi, Aberdeen, Freetown.

The Law Officers’ Department in the Ministry of Justice provides legal services for all Government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and is responsible for the administration of justice in Sierra Leone, in terms of legislation and policy.

Legislation and policy initiatives are only effective when they are fully and appropriately implemented. To achieve this, the general public must be made aware of, and understand, legislations and policies. Public servants must understand the process for developing legislations, taking into consideration existing provisions and their implications.  

Therefore through this workshop, the Law Officers’ Department aims to inform public servants from all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, members of the Bar, and Civil Society about the provisions in the State Proceedings Act 2000, Public Notice No. 444 of 1996, The Law Officers’ Act 1965 and the Attorney General’s Instructions to the Police (Public Notice No. 34 of 1965).

These legislations serve to improve the competency and efficiency of public servants, minimize the abuse of power against ordinary citizens by government officials, and promote a coordinated approach between MDAs during legislative development. 

Sessions during the workshop will specifically dwell on the State Proceedings Act of 2000 and its Relevance to the Operation of the Rule of Law; and the Government Notice No. 444 of 1996 vis-à-vis the Role of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, in Legislative Drafting.

The State Proceedings Act provides for the exercise of jurisdiction in respect of claims by, or against, government, pursuant to the abolition by subsection 1 of Section 133 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone.

One key element in the State Proceeding Act is that legal proceedings can be brought against government by members of the public, as a consequence of their actions or inactions. Knowledge gained on the State Proceedings Act during the workshop, will lead to improved procedures in terms of response by government officials to Court Orders and the foreknowledge of the Ministry of Justice before the passing of judgment against government.

The workshop will also stress that government, through the Public Notice No. 444 of 1996, has developed guidelines for use by national and international practitioners, in the initiation and formation of government legislations. This is to ensure that legislations are developed with reference to existing national provisions, while reflecting situations unique to Sierra Leone.

An understanding of national legislations will increase the accountability of public servants, provide an accessible and fair system for dealing with grievances for and against government, and promote the rule of law and compliance with the legal framework for policy development, in Sierra Leone.

Justice Sector Coordination Office, Freetown, Sierra Leone

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