Sierra Leone Telegraph: 03 February 2022:
Twenty six High Court Judges have been posted across Sierra Leone to review the sentences, and in some cases – detention without charge meted out to over one thousand people, including teenagers, in a week-long crusade by the country’s Chief Justice to improve access to justice.
Six Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature presiding over cases at the main Law Courts building in Freetown in the ongoing Judicial Week have discharged 47 inmates who have been incarcerated for various offences.
Court of Appeal Judges, Justices Jamesina King, Alhaji Momoh-Jah Stevens, Komba Kamanda, Monfred Sesay, Ansumana Ivan Sesay and High Court Judge Adrian J. Fisher are among the 26 Judges deployed by Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards across the country to review a total of 1,013 cases.
The discharged persons were before the Courts for various offences ranging from wounding with intent, murder, robbery, conspiracy, fraudulent conversion and sexual penetration among others.
With support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Judicial Week is financed by the Government of Sierra Leone. The Judicial Week continues till Friday, 4th February 2020 with more cases to be reviewed and decided in the interest of justice and fair trial.
At the Ross Road Magistrates’ Courts in Freetown yesterday, one of the High Court Judges presiding over cases in the ongoing Judicial Week – Justice Manuela Harding (Photo), discharged 19-year-old Labourer, Mohamed Sow and 29-year-old Mamoud Mansaray who were locked up in prison without their case being heard by the courts.
According to report from the Judiciary communications unit, Sow was before the court on a one count indictment of Robbery with Aggravation contrary to Section 23 (1) (a) of the Larceny Act of 1916 as repealed and replaced by section 2 of the Act No. 16 of 1971.
It was alleged that the accused on Saturday 27th November 2021 at Jui Junction, Waterloo Highway in the Waterloo Judicial District, being armed with bottle, robbed one Alhaji Kargbo.
29-year-old Electrician, Mamoud Mansaray was also discharged of one count indictment of Fraudulent Conversion contrary to section 20 (1) (IV) (a) of the Larceny Act of 1916.
Mansaray was in September 2021, at Goderich in Freetown alleged to have fraudulently converted to his own use or benefit certain properties including one TVS Motor Tricycle, windscreen, one Motor Tricycle Battery and other items all valued at Four Million One Hundred Thousand Leones (Le 4,100,000).
Justice Harding also granted bail to Motorcycle Rider – Mohamed Lamin Conteh who was accused of fraudulent conversion, Marketer Ibrahim Tarawally for Larceny and Osman Bah for fraudulent conversion.
The decision was reached after the Application for bail made by Defence Lawyer, Lamin J. Kamara from the Legal Aid Board on behalf of the accused persons wasn’t objected to by State Prosecutor, Robin Mason Jr.
In another related development, Supreme Court Judge Alusine Sesay who is presiding over cases at the Waterloo Magistrate’s Court in the ongoing Judicial Week, has completed the review of 15 rulings delivered by various Magistrates in the Western Area of Freetown against accused persons, convicts and inmates.
The hearings are part of a total of one thousand and thirteen cases assigned to 26 judges across the country for review for which inmates had been incarcerated and awaiting trial without indictments, those on prolonged adjournments due to lack of empanelled jurors, those who’ve been admitted to bail but are unable to fulfil their bail conditions to secure their release and those serving unjustifiable and disproportionate sentences from Magistrates.
Kudos to the current Chief Justice for the bold step taken to redefine the justice system of the country. It has been the case of survival of the fittest/highest bidder to gain justice. In the circumstance, the poor/those who know their rights are always crushed. My appeal to him is to extend this novel and laudable move to the very judges who have suddenly turned into angels of hope to the disadvantaged and marginalized poor who have suffered years of injustice. A good number of these judges have matters in their courts that have waited for judgment for over 12 years. One of the notorieties is Justice Brown-Marke. There is a popular adage which says “justice delayed is Justice denied”, and he should be brought to know this.
The constitutional provision states 90 days for matters, especially in civil cases slated for verdict to be completed, but to keep a matter for 12 years without judgment is a gross violation of the human rights of the affected person(s).