The Legal Aid Board of Sierra Leone led by its Chairperson Hon. Justice Miatta Samba and Executive Director Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles on 10th January, 2019 paid courtesy call to the newly approved Hon. Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Hon. Justice Desmond B. Edwards (JSC). The essence of the visit according to Justice Samba, was to congratulate His Lordship on his appointment as Chief Justice of the Republic and to further discuss the issue of expeditious trials for inmates who have not been served with indictments and those who have been making numerous appearances in court.
The Executive Director of Legal Aid told the Hon. Chief Justice that her institution has been partnering with the Judiciary of Sierra Leone in ensuring that accused persons who are charged with an offense and cannot provide the service of a lawyer, are provided with one. She further called on the Hon. Chief Justice to enforce the Prison Court which she described as a fact- finding court, that the Prison Court has helped in identifying the challenges facing expeditious trial and proffers solutions.
She called on the Hon. Chief Justice to enforce the bail regulation approved by the Rule of Court Committee and noted that the regulation will not only address the issue of overcrowding in various correctional centres in the country, but will ensure that accused persons who may not be found guilty of an offence are not unnecessarily punished.
The Hon Chief Justice, Hon. Justice D. B. Edwards thanked the Chairperson and team for a visit he described as useful and timely. He said under my leadership, he will ensure that justice is meted out to those who deserve it. Commenting on the rights of the accused, the Hon Chief Justice said, every accused person is entitled to fair and expeditious trial which includes the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
The Hon. Chief Justice said, the Judiciary under his leadership is ready and will work with members of the Justice Sector and development partners who are committed to effective justice delivery in the country. He asked the Legal Aid team to work with the Correctional Department to present a document of concern that will highlight all the issues raised.
On the Prison Court, the Hon. Chief Justice promised to talk with the coordinator and see how best they could continue the work and to further improve on it.
Hon. Chief Justice Desmond B. Edwards Flanked the Chairperson and Executive Director of Legal Aid