September 27, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Chief justice of Sierra Leone yesterday reiterated the judiciary’s willingness and determination to ensure that an electoral court is in place to hear and determine elections-related offences.
Justice Abdulai Hamid Cham’s was speaking in an interview on Radio Democracy’s (FM98.1) ‘Good Morning Salone’ programme in the wake of concerns by civil society organisations, especially National Elections Watch (NEW), about alleged feet dragging to establish a special court for electoral offences.
NEW Chairperson, Marcella Samba-Sesay, told the same programme that the court was highly needed because “We are definitely going to have electoral offences in the upcoming polls.”
“We are not happy with the way the justice system is resonating with the electioneering process. The Chief Justice should tell us the plan for the establishment of an electoral court,” she urged.
However, Chief Justice Cham stressed that the electoral court would not be established away from the normal court system as according to him, he would appoint judges to deal specifically with electoral offences.
“We have resident judges in all the regions and they will form a core of the electoral court. We are ready to have an electoral court and we have the judges to do the job,” said Chief Justice Charm.
The Chief Justice disclosed that the selected judges would need training in how to adjudicate special electoral offences, adding that they are currently in discussion with the United Nations Development Programme to provide the required support.
He revealed that another training of judges and magistrates would commence next week and that the issue of election will be part of it.
“In the next two-weeks all those that will be acting as judges for electoral offences would have been in place. Those that have served before in that respect will be there to help pass on knowledge to the new ones,” he revealed.