Your trusted place for Sierra Leone and global news
HomeFeaturedDevelopment: Justice Administration In Sierra Leone – The Missing Jewel

Development: Justice Administration In Sierra Leone – The Missing Jewel

Development: Justice Administration In Sierra Leone – The Missing Jewel

The International Community has invested considerable amount of funds and other resources into the improvement of infrastructure and equipment in the administration of justice in Sierra Leone because it is seen as the first virtue of social institution and a basis of national development.

In view of this, much has been done by international organizations (UNDP, DFID, EU) to name but a few. The reason for this is to ensure that Sierra Leone emerges from the ashes of war to the achievement of the Millennium Development goals (MDG) which includes the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development.

To achieve the above mentioned, one sector that needs to be overhauled is the justice sector in the country. This sector was seen as a major reason as far-reaching consequence on our development as a nation. In nexus with the above, much has been done in the area of the delivery of justice as a pre-requisite for peace building and sustainable development.

In the last few years, the justice sector development program (JSDP) has made a conscientious effort to ensure that this important sector is given a major facelift for the effective administration of justice.

For instance, there is ongoing infrastructural development (the building of juvenile court) in Sierra Leone to expedite juvenile justice in the country which has long been seen as a major problem in the overall administration of justice in Sierra Leone. This project does not only limit itself to the improvement of infrastructural development but also includes the capacity building of legal parishioners who are being equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge base so that they could adequately argue on behalf of children in conflict with the law.

Since the enactment of the Child Rights in 2007, there have been a lot of controversies in the formal and informal sector of the justice system which undermines its implementation in the country. This is especially evident in the rights of Juveniles during trials. The rights of the accused to a legal representative, as espoused in both national and international instrument, are severely down played. As a result they do not even have persons to guarantee them protection under the law. Most importantly, it can be the state’s insensitivity to upholding the rule of law as expected of all civilized nations the world over.

It is puzzling to note that in this day of our Lord, parents are still asking the police to take up their children as a means of correction for their misbehavior; law enforcement officials are still using too often than not detention against Juveniles at different levels of the administration of justice. The systematic use of detention against juveniles can indeed have serious consequences for these individuals, including their stigmatization, victimization and indeed criminalization. Sending a youngster to prison is often a guaranteed contribution to a life long criminal adventure.

Another area that warrants attention in the dispensation of justice in the country is the issue of domestic violence against females which is very much prevalent in the country.

The Domestic Violence Acts, the Devolution of Estate Act and Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act, collectively referred to as the Gender Acts, were passed unto law on June 14th 2007. The motivation behind the implementation of the acts is the need to ensure Sierra Leone’s compliance with its obligations under International Human Right instruments to which it is a signatory.

Prior to the enactment of these legislations, women suffered discrimination in almost every sphere of life including marriage, adoption, cultural practices and beliefs and distribution of property. During the war, women and girls were uniquely targeted by different fighting factors. In addition, they became frequent victims of domestic violence. As a result, the gender acts were enacted to address these problems and to consolidate respect for human respect, dignity and the rule of law.

One of the militating factors in the implementation of the gender law is that some of the provisions are contrary to some entrenched provisions as provided for in the 1991 constitution. For instance, whereas the Gender Laws of 2007 makes provision for non-discrimination, the constitution of Sierra Leone, with particular reference to sector 27 (4) (d) provides otherwise. And where there is such contention, the constitution takes precedence pursuant to section 171 (15) which states that, “This constitution shall be the supreme law of Sierra Leone and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no effect”. In spite of the tremendous efforts by international players in connection with the implementation of these Acts, it is still far from becoming a reality. The problem lies squarely on the lack of the political will to see to it that these issues are given a considerable attention.

To be precise, despite their efforts there is still rampant abuse of the rights of females countrywide without adequate solution.

Cognizant of the fact that justice is the first virtue of every social institution, it is incumbent on the public authorities to develop supportive measures to combat the rampant sparks of injustice in Sierra Leone.

At this juncture, it is worthy to note that indeed justice is the missing jewel in Sierra Leone and that which is undermining our development programmes. It is crystal clear that even our national pledge which is a touch stone of our national aspiration lacks justice in its content which proves beyond doubt that we need to re-examine our national values.     

By Edward Kai Kelly

Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!

© 2009, https:. All rights reserved.

Share With:
Rate This Article
No Comments

Leave A Comment