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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Chief Justice Edwards And The Sierra Leone Judiciary In 2022

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By Elkass Sannoh 1st January, 2022

On Friday, 21st December, 2018 the current Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards subscribed to the Oath of Office before His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio at State House in Freetown. He used the occasion to assure the President that, “I will not betray the trust bestowed on me. For me, failure is not an option.”

He went on to also assure Sierra Leoneans that, “I will try as much as I can to ensure there is transformation in the Judiciary.”

According to Hon. Chief Justice D.B. Edwards, a lot of things had gone bad in the Judiciary, noting that he was meticulously chosen because a lot was expected of him to restore the dignity of the Judiciary.

Three years ago exactly on 21st December 2021, a lot of local and international journalists had wanted to interview the Chief Justice to explain the “magic” behind the unimaginable reforms and successes at the Judiciary.

Justice Edwards told them that, “I don’t think I have done much.” He encouraged them (Journalists) to allow him introspect his three years in office instead of trumpeting those unprecedented historical gains.

The Chief Justice will always retort, “they said we have achieved a lot but I don’t think so. Let us allow God to continue to lead us.”

With all those immeasurable Commendations, the Chief Justice believes the Sierra Leone Judiciary has only done “LITTLE” and there is need to do “MORE.” He has therefore declared 2022 as a year of ” UNPRECEDENTED ACHIEVEMENTS” in the administration of Justice.

The Judiciary of any country is a very important arm of government as it is entrusted with the responsibility of interpreting the country’s laws and punishing lawbreakers. This responsibility is huge and enormous. The administration of justice is expensive but the Judiciary is being underfunded by the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Finance has refused to prioritise the Judiciary which was why out of Forty Billion Leones requested for, only Fifteen Billion Leones was approved. This is Sad! In as much as we are being financially constrained, the Government of Sierra Leone has been there as a very dependable source of financial support. Donor support is minimal but the Judiciary is still grateful to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Sierra Leone Office for their support.

In three years of his stewardship, the Chief Justice has achieved a lot. These achievements compelled other countries to come on a study tour to learn from the leadership style of the current Chief Justice and his dedicated management team. Among the achievements are:

  1. Deployment of Magistrates across all Districts for the first time.
  2. Recruitment and deployment of Judges in places where there were no sitting Judges.

DIGITALISATION

  1. First Virtual Court
  2. A responsive website, now more than ever before, Judgments are being uploaded on a daily basis on the website www.judiciary.gov.sl as well as cases assigned to Judges for adjudication.
    3.Justice Application to ensure effective service delivery at the Magistrates’ Courts.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
1.Recruitment of qualified staff to senior positions and for the first time, over 200 % salary increment for all staff.

GENDER EMPOWERMENT

  1. Jobs to more women at senior management, junior staff to the lowest cadre. Eg Master and Registrar, Court of Appeal Registrar, Fast Track Registrar, Court Operations, HR, Senior Assistant Registrar etc. are all women

AWARDS
Won many awards including Leading Innovative Government Institution of the year.
Bar Association Award for transformative reforms all under the current Chief Justice.
2022 is indeed a year of UNPRECEDENTED ACHIEVEMENTS.

Happy New Year.

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