February 24, 2021
By Jeneba A Conteh
In their bid to promoting constitutionalism, justice, the rule of law, accountability and transparency within the justice system in Sierra Leone, Legal Link, in collaboration with other civil society organizations,has on Monday, 22nd February, launched the CSO Trial Monitoring Group (TMG) for the effective monitoring of cases in the Sexual Offence Model Court and the Anti-Corruption Court at the Africell American Corner conference hall in Freetown.
Chairman of the TMG,Lawyer Rashid Dumbuya said the mandate of the Trial Monitoring Group is geared towards the monitoring of the proceedings in the two forensic courts, and to determine whether they have been done fairly and effectively in line with the purpose for which they have been established.
Lawyer Rashid said the group hoped that by the publication of a quarterly newsletter, the general public and relevant stakeholders will be better placed to understand the status of cases before those courts, the progress being made by the Judiciary to expeditiously look into sexual and corruption cases, expose inadequacies and shortcomings in the court proceedings, as well as proffer recommendations for effective reformation.
He added that corruption and sexual offence cases are the most serious problems the country is currently faced with.
He said the objective of the Trial Monitoring Group was to introduce a new paradigm shift in the trail of corruption and sexual offence cases, help promote constitutionalism through public education and information and to build confidence in the minds of the citizens.
Lawyer Rashid further stated that it is important to have an independent mechanism that will monitor the activities of the forensic courts, adding that TMG has a mandate to monitor the activities of the court and bring out recommendations because it is of public interest.
He acknowledged the Government of Sierra Leone and the Office of the Chief Justice for setting up the model courts.
In his statement, Public Relations Officer of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone,Moses Lamin Kamara, said the Judiciary is not only independent but also subjected to the Constitution.
He said the Judiciary is answerable to the people, hence they established the public relations unit through the support of UNDP in order to educate people about their work.
He said they have been embarking on public education and instituted constitutional instruments on bail policy, which, according to him ,”if you commit a crime upon which conviction will be sentence for less than five years, upon first appearance, bail should be granted”.
He went on to say that they have seen situation presently where people or litigants’ challenge the Magistrates if he/she fails to follow the bail policy.
“We know in public education, we have to do more, we are very grateful to initiate a monitoring group that will look at the day to day activities of the Judiciary,” he said.
Representing the Anti-Corruption Commission, Sylvanus Blake, Senior Public education Officer, said the commission welcomes the idea of setting up a Trial Monitoring Group, adding that the commission needed partners who will monitor their activities too.
He said the initiative will provide an opportunity for the public to know more about cases of corruption.
He called on the Trial Monitoring Group to work in the interest of the country while bringing out reports.