June 21, 2021
The Judiciary of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has today ended its two-day training for Court Reporters on court proceedings and professional court reporting.
In his final remarks marking the end of the training, the acting Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Nicholas Browne-Marke said the training has intensified the need for continued cooperation between journalists and the Judiciary. He described their relationship as mutually beneficial.
In extending his warmest appreciation to journalists for their cooperation and participation throughout the training, Hon. Justice Browne-Marke told journalists that “we’re not enemies, we’re friends and we share many things in common.” He added that the Judiciary has now more than ever before, acknowledged the pivotal role of journalists in the administration of justice.
Presenting on, “Reporting criminal trials in the High Court,” Hon. Justice Dr. Abukakarr Binneh-Kamara re-echoed that the Judiciary and Mediated Communicators share a community of shared interest with both parties concerned with the promotion of the principle of freedom, justice and democracy which he referred to as the pillars of democratic good governance.
He encouraged Court Reporters to deviate from adding opinions in their reports on cases before the court. He admonished them to cross check and fact check information prior to publication.
In his power point presentation on “News gathering and reporting techniques,” Senior Lecturer at the Mass Communication Department, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Dr Francis Sowa gave a practical and systematic guide to creating, assessing and presenting of facts in reporting court proceedings and processes.
Speaking on “the challenges of court reporting, accessing court files and officials,” former Head of Department at the Mass Communication Department, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Dr. Isaac Massaquoi explained that amid the numerous challenges faced by court reporters, reasonable efforts must be made to ethically balance their reports to the gratification of the public.
He stressed that journalists must be aware that their coverage of the courts and its activities help the Judiciary and Juries to behave fairly and sensitive to the values espoused by society as well as promote a shared sense that the court operates with integrity in the dispensation of justice.
The BBC’s Umaru Fofana deliberated on court reporting as it relates to international best practices. He urged journalists to uphold the principles of accuracy and fairness regardless of where they find themselves.
Court of Appeal Judge Hon Justice Fatmatta Bintu Alhadi (JA) brought to light the court divisions relating to the setting up of various specialized courts such as the FastTrack Commercial Court, Industrial and Social Security Court and the Sexual Offences Model Courts aimed at making justice more accessible to the people.
The ceremony was climaxed by the presentation of certificates to Court Reporters by Hon. Justice Browne-Marke (JSC) and Hon. Justice Eku Emmanuel Roberts (JSC).