Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 January 2019:
The new Ombudsman of Sierra Leone – Leon Jenkins-Johnston, yesterday met with local journalists at a press conference held in his office at Charlotte Street, Freetown, where he briefed the media about his plans for moving the office of Ombudsman forwards.
Ombudsman Leon Jenkins-Johnston spoke about his work, which he said is aimed at “improving the delivery of public services, enhance administrative justice and safeguard human rights”.
He thanked president Julius Maada Bio for the confidence reposed in him to serve as ombudsman; and noted that with the confidence of the president, he is ready to serve the nation – without fear or favour.
He said that in accordance with the Ombudsman’s Act of 1997, maladministration includes, bias, unfair discrimination or failure to explain grounds of decision which appears discriminatory.
He informed the media that the Constitution of Sierra Leone states that the functions of the ombudsman shall include investigation of any action taken or omitted to be taken by or on behalf of departments or ministry of government, statutory corporation or institutions of higher learning set up entirely by public funds, and members of the public.
Speaking about his accomplishment since taking up office a few weeks ago, Leon Jenkins-Johnston said that he has conducted a regional familiarisation tour of the four regions to engage stakeholders and staff, so as to develop an agenda to continuously improve on the services rendered to the public.
He said that his programmes are geared towards issues that are within the purview of the ombudsman, including: Effective Prison/Correctional Service monitoring; Unlawful Arrest and Detention of persons; Improving Grievance Mechanism; Introduction of subpoena to enhance compliance in accordance with section 10(4) of the Ombudsman’s Act, which makes the following provisions: “The Ombudsman shall have such powers, rights and privileges as vested with the High Court of justice or a judge“.
He said that his office will also work towards the protection of vulnerable students at institutions of higher learning.
Speaking about the numbers and types of complaints received, resolved and transferred by the office of the Ombudsman, ombudsman Leon Jenkins-Johnston said that the office received 519 complaints in 2018 of which 253 were resolved, 126 referred and 40 under investigations.
He noted that the highest complaints were received in Freetown with 264, Bo – 111, Makeni – 52, Kenema – 47, and Port Loko – 45.
He said that the nature of complaints that the office has dealt with, ranges from: Non-payment of Salaries/ Arrears and Benefits; Non or late payment of gratuities/ pension from NASSIT; Wrongful dismissal; Bias / unfair treatment; Harassment and other issues relating to maladministration.
He informed the media that he will be visiting various ministries, departments and agencies, especially the ministries of Lands and Social Welfare, and NASSIT; and pledges to fight maladministration in public life