February 1, 2022
The Judiciary of Sierra Leone has taken step to decongest correctional centres across the country through a nationwide Judicial Week initiated by the Chief Justice.
The judicial week which was initiated to make available unfettered access to all, commenced on 31st January, 2022 and would end on 4th February, 2022.
“This is one of the initiatives of the current administration provided by the Honourable Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, to enhance access to justice and to further decongest correctional centers by ensuring that inmates/accused persons or some convicted persons have the opportunity to be heard and have their cases reviewed by specific Judges deployed across the Country by the Honourable Chief Justice,” a release from the Judiciary states.
The notice states that following a stakeholders meeting involving the Judiciary, Sierra Leone Correctional Centers, Legal Aid Board, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Sierra Leone Police, it was discovered that a good number of inmates had issues bothering on access to Justice.
“Out of a total number of one thousand and thirteen (1,013), 111 of these inmates had been incarcerated awaiting trial without indictments; 138 on prolonged adjournments due to lack of empaneled jurors, 181 on bail but unable to fulfil their bail conditions to secure their release, 47 were serving unjustifiable and disproportionate sentences from Magistrates with no Summary Review application in their favour and 532 were incarcerated with no admission to bail for possible bailable offences.”
Twenty-six (26) Judges have been deployed across the country and that during the Judicial Week, a total of 1,013 inmates would be given the opportunity to have their incarcerations reviewed in Prison Courts holden outside the Correctional facilities with those without indictments been given opportunity for their cases to be dealt with expeditiously or as the justice of case may require.
“Pursuant to the above, there will be one-week recess across the country where all other Court matters will not be heard except for those matters to be dealt with during this Judicial Week. In effect, no Court siting will take place because the Judges will be using all the Courts across the country to expedite the process in a transparent manner.”