Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 May 2021:
United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, yesterday visited the country’s Chief Justice, Desmond Babatunde Edwards at the Law Courts Buildings in Freetown, where he assured the Chief Justice of his determination to strengthen cooperation with the judiciary to help bring vital reforms.
The US Ambassador said that his visit is part of his familiarization tour to key decision makers in Sierra Leone to foster goodwill and solidarity.
“We have a good history of cooperation between the two countries through the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US/INL) program,” he said, noting that he has received reports of remarkable progress made in the justice sector.
“Before I came here, I spoke with representatives from INL in Washington and they were pleased with the program and the progress that’s being made and certainly, we would want to continue, if not that particular program, but another program.”
He said that the US government is open to helping Sierra Leone’s judiciary address its priority needs.
The US/INL program is a US funded project, implemented by other partners such as the UNDP to primarily support the “From Prisons to Correctional Project,” improving the institutional capacity of correctional facilities in accordance with International Human Rights standards; strengthening the capabilities of correctional staff to improve inmates and staff welfare and to ensure rehabilitation mechanisms for suitable reintegration of inmates in society, among others.
Receiving the US Ambassador, the Chief Justice stated that the Judiciary’s top areas of priority range from improving access to justice and enhancing expeditious trials.
He said the Judiciary has established the first Sexual Offences Model Court with huge success stories, noting that plans are under way to replicate similar successes in other parts of the country with more external support.
“The President has waged war on rape and other sexual offences, and we should be improving our investigators as well as the Medical Doctors because they provide the evidence that come to court for the successful prosecution of cases,” the Chief Justice said.
While commending the US government for supporting the justice sector in reforming the Criminal Procedure Act, providing training for judicial as well as Law Officers and the INL program, the Chief Justice said they will welcome any support from the US government.
The visit was concluded with the US Ambassador receiving copy of the Judiciary’s maiden magazine and inspection of the Sexual offences model Court as well as other facilities at the main Law Courts Building.
I noticed the ambassador is not wearing a mask, I wonder why , is it that the Corona virus does not mutate in Sierra Leone and all the lockdown and mask wearing is just a fuss ?
Welcome to Sierra Leone ambassador David Reimer; I applaud your efforts to meet with decision makers in our little country so that we will be able foster goodwill and solidarity between our two nations. It seems to me that unlike Donald Trump the Biden adminstration has a genuine interest in creating standards in governance that will improve the lives of our people. You are off to good start Sir, but there is much more that needs to be done before we will able to relax and breathe quite freely and easily. Yup, you are off to a good start but not good enough to ignite the fires of change in our Judicial system. Mr Reimer in order for you to be able to achieve sustainable results in our country you will have to strap your boots and become as vigilant as a sentry guarding a city.
Results,results,results that’s what should be your daily mantra and main objective,anything less will a total waste of your time,money and efforts. Mr Ambassador there are three steps you should take if one of your priorities is to support Judicial reforms in Sierra Leone. You have already taken an important step that will break the ice by meeting with Chief Justice Edwards. Now the second step is to visit not only the courts but our prison facilities also. The Chief Justice is a big part of the problem the Judicial system is facing; He is like the clogged artery of a heart patient that prevents the free, rapid of blood into the heart.
I would advise that you or your staff members visit all the prison and rehabilitation facilities and see things for yourself in our dysfunctional society before coming to any credible conclusions on what needs to be done in order ensure that all viable changes and reforms achieved in the Judicial system will be able to hold steady and still under pressure, measure up and respond effectively to crime and all the complexities that come with it. Lastly, you must devise a platform that encourages the input of those behind bars,lawyers,ex convicts and their families and Prison officials in order to get a full picture of the nerve wrecking challenges intricately wrapped up in the whole process supporting Judicial reform in Sierra Leone, the only place I am proud to call my home.(lol)