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Developing Bail and Sentencing Instruments for Sierra Leone

March 21, 2016 

The Honourable Chief Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm has said that the sentencing and bail instruments are “crucial for justice delivery in Sierra Leone” during his welcoming of U.S. Federal District Court Judges Ricardo H. Hinojosa and  Beryl A. Howell.  The two judges from the United States of America recently concluded their 10-day visit to Sierra Leone to support the Sentencing and Bail Working Group in developing instruments for ensuring uniformity and increasing transparency of the bail and sentencing process in the Sierra Leonean justice system.  Their participation was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Sierra Leone’s Sentencing and Bail Working Group is chaired by Justice of the Supreme Court Nicholas Browne-Marke and comprises senior members from the justice institutions and civil society, and is tasked with developing new sentencing and bail instruments for Sierra Leone.

“I am not here to tell you what system to adopt, however, I can share that the U.S. sentencing guidelines create a system that is fairer and more transparent and I hope you find that helpful as you consider bail and sentencing reforms in Sierra Leone.” said Judge Hinojosa.

Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms. Laurie Meininger, noted that the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone is very pleased that the two visiting judges are bringing valuable experience into the process of formulating comprehensive bail and sentencing instruments for Sierra Leone.

The American judges also met with the UNDP Country Director, Sudipto Mukerjee and various stakeholders in the justice delivery system in Sierra Leone including the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Joseph F. Kamara, the Inspector-General of Police, Francis Munu, the Director General of the Correctional Services, Mr. Sampha Bilo Kamara, as well as civil society organizations engaged in the justice sector.

Mr. Sudipto Mukerjee said “The project to develop bail and sentencing policies and guidelines is a central part of UNDP’s new Rule of Law Programme. The new bail and sentencing instruments are expected to be effective tools to ensure fair and transparent processes within the Sierra Leonean justice system and also ensure long-term decongestion of police detentions and correctional facilities.”

The visiting judges along with the Sentencing and Bail Working Group held consultations with the public, from all segments of society, including Okada Unionists (motorbike taxis) in Freetown and Waterloo. The Okada taxi unions openly shared their experiences with the senior members of the Working Group, “Freedom is sweet – so we pay to be freed… and we are asking you today to do something about it”,

Assistant Superintendent from the Correctional Services, Junisa Kamara – who is also a member of the Sentencing and Bail Working Group – added that the new policies and guidelines have the potential to decongest correctional facilities.

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