Press Release From: The Judiciary of Sierra Leone
Contrary to utterances and opinions being expressed lately regarding the handling of Anti-Corruption cases in the Judiciary, the Judiciary wishes to state that its primary focus and vision is access to QUALITY justice. In this regard, we strive to ensure that all litigants who come to court are treated equally and fairly. No case is more important than another. We also ensure that in pursuance thereto, correct procedures are followed at all times and in ALL cases. (Photo: (Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh)
The Judiciary of Sierra Leone, the 3rd Arm of Government, derives its authority from the constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 Act No.6 of 1991. Section 120 provides:
“The Judicial Power of Sierra Leone shall be vested in the Judiciary of which the chief Justice shall be the HEAD”.
Section 120 (3) provides:
“In the exercise of its judicial functions, the Judiciary shall be subject to only this Constitution or any other law, and shall not be subject to the control or direction of any other person or authority”.
The Judiciary does not deliberately treat any matter in a lethargic manner or at a snail’s pace. With specific reference to the Anti-Corruption cases which were recently brought to court, the Judiciary has done nothing to frustrate the ACC Commissioner and, if he feels exasperated it’s unfortunate. Had correct procedures been followed in the first instance, there would have been no problem or delay.
It is unusual practice and procedure, for the prosecution or any litigant, to file matters with the Judiciary and withdraw them in order to make corrections/additions. It equally un-procedural for the prosecution to file indictments with dates written thereon, purporting to fix a date of hearing, as this is judicial function reserved only to the Judiciary. The prosecution cannot file documents and fix a date, in this instance, two working days later, and expect a judge to hear the matter. The honorable judges do not work under “the direction of any other authority”.
It is also incorrect that ACC files are lying on the Chief Justice’s desk and gathering dust. Those ACC files were all assigned by the Honorable Chief justice in less than 24 hours after they had been handed over to her, and after she has perused them. The judges to whom these cases are assigned have fixed dates of hearing as appropriate.
The Chief Justice and the Judiciary are very diligent in performing their judicial functions, and will not be deterred nor feel blackmailed by unfortunate utterances and actions. These cases must be tried in Courts of Law and not in the media. We value our hard won peace and will not do anything to jeopardize that peace.
All the ACC cases have now been assigned to very competent judges who have already started working diligently on them to ensure that justice is swiftly done. The honorable chief justice and the Judiciary will respectfully urge all concerned to exercise restraint and allow the cases to be tried by competent courts of jurisdiction and not by the media
Master and Registrar
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