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NEWS : Local News  

Judiciary Surely Cannot Investigate itself - Judicial & Legal Service Commission should!
By Sylvia O. Blyden
Feb 1, 2010, 13:31
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The framers of Sierra Leones Constitution realised that members of the Judiciary might once in a while engage in wrong-doings but then they also had the salient fact in mind that the Judiciary cannot really investigate itself. It was with this in mind that they created a Judicial & Legal Service Commission (JLSC). The JLSC, it should be noted has far more non-judicial persons on it than actual judicial figures. Infact, only two Judicial persons are members of the JLSC out of total of seven (7) members. This speaks to the fact that the framers of the Constitution were aware that errant Magistrates might have their protective GODFATHERS within the Judiciary who might try to protect their erroneous ways if only judicial figures were to investigate Magistrates.

JLSC was given oversight in the area of Investigating and Disciplining certain cadres of the Justice Sector in the country. This cadre includes Magistrates like Magistrate Komba Kamanda but it certainly does not include Judges of the Superior Judicature like Justice Alusine Sesay and Justice Allan Halloway. Whilst the JLSC is the one to recommend for someone to be appointed or promoted as Judge, it really has no disciplinary powers over any such appointed Judge. A judge is supposed to be a person of upstanding integrity and this is why he has to be first scrutinised by Parliament and again, upon statement misconduct, only the same Parliament can remove him from office after a series of steps. Please see box below.

Godfather Justice Maitland Emeric Tolla Thompson signs Wedding Register of his Godson Magistrate Kamanda as Godson looks on.

The reason for such arduous manner of removal of a Judge is to make it very difficult to remove a sitting Judge who falls out of favour with the Executive or anyone else within the Judiciary. The framers wanted the Judiciary independent and Judges to be assured of tenure of office when they took their independent decisions.

However, Magistrates, of much lower cadre to Judges (which is why they are not entrusted with the power to commit for contempt) do not need to go through such arduous steps to be investigated and/or disciplined. Thus the duties of the JLSC definitely include investigating complaints forwarded against any Magistrate.

However, currently things would seem to be in a state of topsy turvy as sources close to Justice Alusine Sesay and Justice Allan Halloway inform that the JLSC has embarked on "looking into" alleged misconduct by the two Judges and recommending their resignations in contravention of the National Constitutions Section 137.

At the same time, and most shamefully for the Judiciary, a series of serious complaints by female journalist Manjia Balema-Samba against Magistrate Kamanda that should have been automatically forwarded to the same JLSC to be looked into, has not been so done. Rather, the Judiciary has shamed itself by writing to Mrs. Manjia Balema-Samba to inform her that the Judiciary has throughly investigated itself and found itself to be innocent of any wrong doing.

How can the Judiciary investigate the errant Magistrate when there is a Judicial & Legal Service Commission to do just that? Why not have the JLSC (which has five non-Judicial members on it) to look into Manjia Balema-Sambas complaints against the Judiciarys Magistrate Kamanda?

How can a so-called subcommittee of the JLSC be set up to allegedly only browbeat the said two Judges into resigning when it has no such powers? If there is a case against the two Judges, then apply Section 137!!!

As for Magistrate Komba Kamandas own issue, for the sake of the integrity of the Judiciary she heads, Chief Justice Tejan-Jalloh should ignore any possible ill advise from Justice Tolla Thompson and forward the serious complaint from Mrs. Manjia Balema-Samba against Magistrate Kamanda to the Judicial and Legal Service Commission for investigation and disciplinary measures if so warranted. Citizens should NOT accept the Judiciary investigating the Judiciary. No Way! What a disgrace!!!!


Sierra Leone National 1991 Multi Party Constitution

PART VI JUDICIAL AND LEGAL SERVICE COMMISSION

140. (1) There shall be established a Judicial and Legal Service Commission which shall advise the Chief Justice in the performance of his administrative functions and perform such other functions as provided in this Constitution or by any other law, and which shall consist of:

a. the Chief Justice, who shall be the Chairman;
b. the most Senior Justice of the Court of Appeal;
c. the Solicitor-General;
d. one practicing Counsel of not less than ten years standing nominated by the Sierra Leone Bar Association and appointed by the President;
e. the Chairman of the Public Service Commission; and
f. two other persons, not being legal practitioners, to be appointed by the President, subject to the approval of Parliament.

140. (2) The Chief Justice shall, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission and save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, be responsible for the effective and efficient administration of the Judiciary.

140. (3) The following provisions shall apply in relation to a member of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission who is appointed pursuant to paragraphs (d) and (f) of subsection (1)

a. subject to the provisions of this subsection, such member shall vacate office at the expiration of three years from the date of his appointment;
b. any such member may be removed from office by the President for inability to discharge the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct; and
c. such member shall not be removed from office except in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

140. (4) A member of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission shall, before assuming the functions of his office, take and subscribe before the President the oath as set out in the Third Schedule to this Constitution.

Appointments, Dismissals & Disciplining of Judicial & Legal Officers


141. (1) The power to appoint persons to hold or act in an office to which this section applies (including the power to make appointments on promotion and transfer from one office to another and to confirm appointments) and to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such office shall vest in the Judicial and Legal Service Commission;


Provided that the Commission may, with the approval of the President and subject to such conditions as it may think fit, delegate any of its powers under this section, by direction in writing, to any of its members, or to any Judge of the High Court, or to the holder of any office to which this section applies, or, in the case of a power relating to an office connected with the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, to any Justice of either of those Courts.

141. (2) This section applies to the offices of Administrator and Registrar-General, Registrar and Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, Registrar and Deputy Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Master and Registrar of the High Court, Deputy Master and Registrar of the High Court, any Registrar of the High Court, Deputy Administrator and Registrar-General, any Principal Magistrate, Senior Magistrate, Magistrate, Under Sheriff, First Parliamentary Counsel, Second Parliamentary Counsel, Principal State Counsel, Customary Law Officer, Senior State Counsel, Senior Parliamentary Counsel, Research Counsel, Parliamentary Counsel, State Counsel, Assistant Customary Law Officer and such other officers as may be prescribed by Parliament.


Tenure of Office &
Removal of Jud
ges
Section 137 of 1991 Constitution

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature shall hold office during good behaviour.

(4) Subject to the provisions of this section, a Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or for statement misconduct, and shall not be so removed save in accordance with the provisions of this section

(5) If the Judicial and Legal Service Commission represents to the President that the question of removing a Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature, other than Chief Justice, under subsection (4) ought to be investigated then

(a). the President, acting in consultation with the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, shall appoint a tribunal which shall consist of a Chairman and two other members, all of whom shall be persons qualified to hold or have held office as a Justice of the Supreme Court; and
(b). the tribunal appointed under paragraph (a) shall enquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof and the findings thereon to the President and recommend to the President whether the Judge ought to be removed from office under subsection (7).

(6) Where the question of removing a Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature from office has been referred to a tribunal under subsection-5, the President may suspend the Judge from performing the functions of his office, and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the President, and shall in any case cease to have effect if the tribunal recommends to the President that the Judge shall not be removed from office.

(7) A Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature shall be removed from office by the President

(a). if the question of his removal from office has been referred to a tribunal appointed under subsection (5) and the tribunal has recommended to the President that he ought to be removed from office; and
(b). if his removal has been approved by a two-thirds majority in Parliament.


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