June 12, 2020
By Elkass Sannoh
While reacting to rumours making rounds on social media that the Chief Justice, Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, has interfered with Jurors in their ‘deliberation room,’ to influence their judgments in the treason trial of Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh and others, the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, has assured justice not only for those standing trial for treason, but for all before the courts.
“The Judiciary wants to reassure the general public that under the stewardship of Hon. Justice D.B. Edwards, the Judiciary is more accountable and transparent in the dispensation of Justice and discharge of other statutory functions than ever before. The Judiciary therefore remains unperturbed by distractions of this nature,” a statement from the Judiciary reads.
The statement reiterates that the claims made by the unknown author on the social media were not only frivolous but unfounded with a calculated ploy to run a campaign of calumny and to reduce public trust and confidence in the Judiciary.
The Judiciary informed the general public that the current treason trial against Alfred Palo Conteh and two others for related crimes is still ongoing, adding that the State prosecution has closed its case after calling thirteen (13) witnesses.
‘‘The Defence has been given one week adjournment so as to open its defence. This is set to start on Monday, 15th June, 2020.The Defence has indicated that they will be making a “No Case submission” and the Judge is poised to hear the parties in the said trial,’’ the statement continues.
“I am here to protect the Constitution and making sure that justice is given to every Sierra Leonean devoid of social status and/or regional background,” said Justice D.B. Edwards
The Judiciary, according to the statement, recognizes the freedom of expression of every citizen as enshrined in Chapter III Section 25 (1), Act No. 6 of the 1991 “Sierra Leone Constitution” and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
“However, this could be a precursor to violate the Independent Media Code of Practice (Section 1- Accuracy) which speaks about the publication of accurate information for public consumption. The Act further warns against the publication of distorted or misleading information without crosschecking the authenticity of the source.”