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‘Caseload per judge too high’

- admits new Chief Justice

January 15, 2016  By Jariatu S. Bangura

The newly approved Chief Justice of Sierra Leone has stated that the caseload per judge ratio is too high and that there is an urgent need to improve on remunerations and conditions of service for judicial officers.

Justice Hamid Abdulai Cham told Members of Parliament yesterday that backlog cases are not necessarily delayed by the courts, as judges and magistrates are inadequate and inundated with work. He contended though that if conditions of service are improved in the judiciary it would go a long way to attract and retain the right crop of people on the bench.

“If Parliament could help us along that line, you would have solved the enormous problem of manpower shortage in the judiciary,” he said.

Justice Cham, who was last December nominated by President Ernest Bai Koroma to head the Judiciary, after a brief stint in the appellate court, acknowledged that the judiciary has challenges but they are not insurmountable.

He said the sector “needs some overhaul and that is why the Criminal Procedure Bill is before parliament for amendment. Some of our laws are very old and obsolete with some dating as far back as 1916. The colonial masters we inherited these laws from have moved far ahead. I believe we will have to inform the Law Officers Department for certain changes to be made so that our procedures can be streamlined to enable us move fast with criminal procedures.”

Justice Cham, 52, vowed to execute his work in consonance with the oath of office and the constitution.

He is the first locally trained lawyer to be appointed as Chief Justice.

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