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With the highest cases of sexual penetration of children …

With the highest cases of sexual penetration of children …

Pujehun districts needs resident Magistrate

Pujehun district, southern Sierra Leone, which has the highest cases of sexual penetration of children, lacks a resident Magistrate, and this, according to correctional officer in the district, is badly affecting justice.

“Correctional and police cells are filled with suspects and accused persons standing trial”, he said.

One of the Magistrates in Bo presides over the magistrate court which holds at the Native Administration Court Barray in Pujehun town.

The Magistrate does not go to Pujehun frequently and whenever he goes there he usually sits for only two days and returns to Bo. During sittings, he would hardly conclude a matter, at times he only goes to fix adjournment dates for both continuing and fresh matters.

Pujehun is a border district which makes it prone to offences like smuggling, child trafficking and sexual assault among others.

Sahn Maler chiefdom where Socfine Agricultural company operates is also within the District so also are Zimmni in the Makpele chiefdom which is rich in gold and diamonds, the beach and border towns of Solima and Jendema both in Soro-Gbeima chiefdom.

Riots take place in these areas frequently which causes arrests and detentions. “This causes overcrowding of cells”, said a police officer at Zimmi police station.

There are also political tensions in the district as there two chieftaincy elections in Kpanda Kabonde and the other in Barrie chiefdom. The tensions are mainly caused by deaths and disappearances.

According to police and correctional officers, posting of a resident Magistrate to Pujehun  “would make life and our work easy for us because dispensation of justice would be speedy”.

In their opinion, a resident Magistrate in Pujehun would also lead to a state counsel being posted there would be interested in establishing chambers in the district.

With a state counsel in Pujehun, appeals from local court can be easily reviewed rather than waiting for the state counsel, who doubles as customary law officer for the southern region to visit the district for such purpose.

One is also needed in the Bonthe municipality whose court is run by the Magistrate in Moyamba. The island used to depend on justices of the peace, two of whom sat as Magistrates. Many of such JPs have died while others have become too tired.

The issue of sending resident Magistrates to places like Pujehun and Bonthe is being looked into by the Judicial and Legal Training Institute which is being co-ordinated by Justice Nicolas Brown-Mark. The institute emphasizes speedy trials, ethics of members of the bench, bar and judicial staff.

By Amadi Abadi

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