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UNDP hosts stakeholders’ discourse on Criminal Procedure Bill 2015

October 20, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as part of a project they are implementing on Bail and Sentencing Guidelines, last week brought together partners from the justice sector and non-state actors to discuss the proposed Criminal Procedure Bill of 2015.

At the end of the two-day meeting hosted at Eden Park in the Western Rural District, participants proffered a number of recommendations, among which that the new Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) should contain a provision creating responsibility to educate the public on its provisions, and that the Attorney General does not have to be notified of private prosecutions.

The draft bill has been work in progress since 2010 and if passed into law by the House of Parliament, it will mark a massive improvement in criminal justice administration in the country, half a century after the current one was enacted.

According to the Executive Director of Centre for Accountability and Rule Law (CARL), Ibrahim Tommy, the CPA is a law that regulates criminal proceedings and everything that relates to crime in the country.

He told Concord Times shortly after the two-day meeting that they were able to take a broad look at a number of issues relating to powers of arrest by the police, bail and committal proceedings, as well as indictment and trials, as some of them go to the heart of criminal procedure itself.

He said that focus was placed mainly on the issue of sentencing because one of the challenges that the justice system keeps facing relates to the issue of sentencing.

“We also looked at some of the drawbacks, challenges and issues we can actually improve on before the bill is passed,” said Tommy. “The point is that we don’t want to have a law and three days into its implementation we realise that there are things that needed to be fixed. This is why some of our laws, especially those that were passed in the recent past, we have kept asking questions about their content and why they need to be amended.”

The CARL boss noted that what they set themselves to do was to help lawmakers who would make the final decision of whether to enact the bill into law or not.

He added that they were keen to make sure that the new law stands the test of time, is fit for purpose, and more importantly there is clarity and the rights of accused persons are respected.

“Hopefully if these recommendations and most of it are accepted by Parliament, which I hope they do, Sierra Leone will be a much better place than it is today. Once the law is passed, I will assure you that we would have had the best CPA in the region,” he said.

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