March 1, 2021
By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
Internews-Sierra Leone, a media development international organization, on Thursday, February 25, 2021, organized a two-day intensive training on Court Reporting and proceeding which attracted over 10 journalists drawn from across the country.
The training which is funded by USAID and implemented by Internews is designed to strengthen Court Reporters and promote accurate reporting.
The funding organisagion together with its partner- internews, is also offering a fellowship opportunity to capacitate 12 selected Freetown based journalists to improve on their ability to report accurately on court proceedings in Sierra Leone
The fellowship is not only focusing on strengthening the country’s justice system and procedural guidelines, but also improving journalists’ accuracy in reporting on court system, including the coverage of arrests, trials, sentencing and appeals.
Elkass Sannoh, Head of Communication at the Sierra Leone Judiciary thanked the organisers of the workshop, noting that the training was timely.
He added that the relationship between the Judiciary and the media has been ‘unfriendly’ and ‘hostile,’ as such capacity training has not been organised to allow the Judiciary explain their constitutional functions and mandate.
He said among the many functions, the judiciary interprets and applies the laws of Sierra Leone, ensuring impartial justice and also provide alternative dispute resolution.
“In accordance with Section 140 (2), Act No. 6 of 1991 of the Sierra Leone Constitution, the Chief Justice shall be responsible for the effective and efficient administration of the Judiciary. He performs a wide range of judicial, supervisory, and ceremonial duties provided for under the Constitution and various Statutes,” he said.
He told journalists that they have the right to report on issues of public importance, but should not allow their opinion on a case swayed by a sensational news story rather than the evidence presented in court.
He said a journalist has a responsibility to hold governmental institutions accountable just as much as the judiciary has the responsibility to ensure a fair trial.
He concluded that it was his conviction that the training will assist journalists to cover news on the Sierra Leone judiciary and its achievements.