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Sierra Leone Presidency Retracts Its Previous Stance in Letter to Journalists
By Awareness Times
Sep 18, 2009, 16:55
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The Office of the President which had sparked off a local row upon its issuance of a Letter that implicitly abrogated to the President, the right to announce the expected time of Supreme Court rulings, has now retracted its previous stance. According to a Press Release from the President, the Executive arm of Government was merely passing on information they had received from the Judicial arm of Government. In the light of this latest Press Release, the ill-worded letter has now been assumed to be retracted alongside the nonsense therein. The implied but illegitimate assurance therein is now to be considered as null and void. Mr. President has no such powers to dictate anything within the Supreme Court nor can he be made to appear to be so powerful that he can abrogate to himself the powers to announce the time of Supreme Court rulings. It was an aberration in our Democracy and it is good that the Presidential-induced misconception has been now corrected.
 
The Ill-worded Letter that has now been impugned by Government Press Release

BAR ASSOCIATION & STATE HOUSE ON SEPARATION OF POWERS
 
Meanwhile, in a well-received letter to local civic activist and Publisher of Awareness Times newspaper, the President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Lawyer Joseph F. Kamara Esq. has yesterday Thursday 17th September 2009, responded to recent concerns raised by the Publisher, Sylvia Blyden. According to Lawyer Kamara, the principle of Separation of Powers is a cornerstone of our democracy and must be protected at all times.
 
Lawyer Kamara opined that contrary to the excited reaction of the recipients (Sierra Leone Association of Journalists) of the impugned letter from the Presidency, in his carefully considered view, the President was merely sharing information in his possession given to him by the Judiciary and had not actually stated that come mid-September, the Judiciary will render the Judgement. Lawyer Kamara however conceded that It would be best that the announcement of a judgment date should come from the Judiciary itself.
 
It will be recalled that Blydens angst with the letter had not been so much the announcement of the information the President had reportedly received from the Judiciary but had been with the implicit assurance in the letter that the President was himself the originating source of the information (i.e: the date of the expected ruling) and not the Courts Registry.
 
On August 31st 2009, Blyden had published: ...for the sake of Posterity, the letter should have been differently worded. It should have stated in clear, clear terms that the Office of the President has been informed by the Supreme Court... to which she had added: For the Presidents Office to have failed to cite a Judicial source for such an assertion they penned down, is a serious cause for concern.
 
However, in a Press Release issued by the Koroma Executive arm of Government yesterday, it has now been made clear that the letter was ill written insofar as its lack of citing a Judicial source. The Executive has now made it categorically clear, as was demanded by Dr. Blyden, that they were merely passing on information reportedly received and were not dictating any such in mid-September date as the impugned letter had implied. Infact, the Government Press Release is now worded to read as if the Judgement can be expected to be delivered anytime within the Judicial year that has now just started. (See Below).
 
Senior Journalists who had been thus misled by the ill-drafted letter into believing that a Presidential intervention had forced a Judicial action, are now well-advised to know that they had been totally misled. The truth is that President Koroma cannot legitimately intervene to get any member of the Judiciary to do his will. Making any announcement to that effect, means he has assumed powers he simply does not possess and smears our democratic credentials.
 
The full text of the Letter from the Bar Association President will be published in our next edition.

GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE
PRESS RELEASE

Government is disturbed over the persistent press articles and complaints alleging its interference in the work of the Judiciary.   The general public is hereby informed that at no time has Government tried to influence the work of the judiciary.

Following the conclusion of arguments in the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) case, the association started agitating for the delivery of the judgment which they felt had been unduly delayed taking into account the relevant constitutional provision.  government therefore had to take up the concern which they had expressed with the judiciary following which, they had been assured that the judgment would be delivered during the course of the judicial year starting 15th September 2009.
Government wishes again to reiterate its respect for the rule of law and the independence of the Judiciary and to reaffirm that in the exercise of its judicial functions, the Judiciary shall be subjected only to the constitution or any other law and shall not be subjected to the control or direction of any other person or authority.
THE PRESS SECRETARIAT
STATE HOUSE (17 SEPTEMBER 2009

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