Calls to review obsolete laws in Sierra Leone
July 5, 2017 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Jariatu Bangura
As Parliament yesterday ratified the appointment of five new judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, lawmakers repeated calls for the reform of obsolete laws in the country.
The five nominees: Ms. Glenna Thompson, Justice of the Supreme Court; Eldred Taylor-Kamara, Justice of the Appeal Court; Ms. Manuela Harding, Judge of the High Court; Mrs. Tonia Barnet, Judge of the High Court; and Dr. Abou Bhakarr Muhammed Binneh-Kamara, Judge of the High Court, were unanimously approved by the bi-party parliament.
Lawmakers called on the Law Reform Commission to review obsolete laws and take their recommendations to the office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for onward transmission to parliament for repeal and enactment.
Apparently, Dr. Binneh-Kamara, who until his nomination as Judge was Principal Magistrate, had told the Appointment Committee on Wednesday, 28 June, 2017 that there was a dire need to repeal and amend obsolete laws in the country.
According to the report of the committee read by Majority Leader, Hon. Leonard Fofanah, Dr. Binneh-Kamara had told the committee that there have been recommendations that some of the laws of the country should be reformed as society is not static and that laws must be dynamic and take into account the challenges of contemporary Sierra Leone.
“We have been finding it extremely difficult to implement these obsolete laws in accordance with modern trends,” Dr. Binneh-Kamara was quoted to have told the Appointment Committee on Wednesday.
Also, erstwhile Magistrate, Mrs. Tonia Barnett was quoted to have promised the committee that she would expedite cases with diligence and speed, while ensuring that lawyers and litigants keep to time within her case management schedule.
The Harvard graduate had served for twelve years as magistrate in various jurisdictions in the country, including Kenema and Freetown.
She was one of three women elevated to the position of Judge of the High Court and Justice of the Supreme Court respectively.
Madam Glenna Thompson, a tutor at the Sierra Leone Law School with over 24 years of legal professional experience, was unanimously approved as Justice of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone.
She was quoted to have told the Appointment Committee that integrity was core value any judge should have, adding that she has it in no short supply.
“I do not think I would have got to this point today in my career if my integrity was in any way questionable,” Madam Glenna reportedly told the Appointment committee.
She added: “However, all that is need is to take on board the relevant and leave out the irrelevant and use ones integrity and good judgment to make sure that you do not deviate from what is supposed to be done. I do not think that I can be influenced by anybody no matter who the witnesses are and above; I am not easily flattered.”
Questioned on reasons for the inordinate delay of matters in the courts, Ms. Thompson was quoted to have remarked that as a practicing barrister for over two decades such delays were often, if not always, caused by litigants, their lawyers or witnesses and not from the Bench.
Meanwhile, while speaking at the ratification, Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) lawmaker, Hon. Hellen Kuyembeh agreed with Dr. Binneh-Kamara on the need to review obsolete laws in the country.
Hon. Kuyembeh noted that land lease law enacted in 1928 was still in currency and doesn’t yield any good to land owners in the 21st century.
“These laws really need to be addressed. There are many obsolete laws in our country and these are the laws that are creating problems for us,” she said.
In his contribution, All Peoples Congress (APC) lawmaker, Hon. Ajibola Manly Spain, who is also a lawyer, urged the House to enact laws that would improve the judicial system in the country.