By Jariatu Bangura
Members of Parliament yesterday amended section 5 of the Local Courts Act of 2011. The amendment is in respect of qualification for the position of Local Court Chairman and Vice Chairman. The new amendment stipulates that any person appointed to the position should be able to read and write in English, including being proficient in a dominant language in the chiefdom.
In his presentation, Deputy Minister of Justice, Arrow B. Bockarie said the insertion was made in 2011 during the amendment to the current Act, but the Printing Department failed to effect the correction.
He urged MPs to fast track the amendment to the bill in order to minimise the difficulties which the previous section posed as having chairmen and deputies who could not speak English would undermine the cause of justice.
Hon. P.C. Mohamed Sama Kailondo Banya IV from Kailahun district said the bill was timely as Local Courts in all 149 chiefdoms in the country are being guided by the Act, and that serious conflicts could arise between Court Chairmen and Clerks because of statements recorded by the latter which an illiterate chairmen could not read.
He said some Clerks would collect monies as fines without recording it in the reports, without the knowledge of the chairman, which could lead to distrust of the latter by complainants. He said the amendment would prevent such distrusts and conflicts because the new chairmen will be able to read and write English.
Hon. P.C. Joseph Alie Kavura Kongomoh from Moyamba district said the amendment should not only be limited to Local Court chairmen, but clerks and the finance officers, because some he had encountered could not read what they had written.
He urged that training programs should be organised for Local Court Clerks in a bid to broaden their knowledge in recording difficult matters, as some clerks encounter lot of challenges in reading verdicts.