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NEWS : Local News  

Sierra Leone Chief Justice Launches Electoral Offenses Court
By Aruna Turay
Jul 20, 2012, 17:12
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Honorable Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Justice Haja Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh, yesterday 19th July 2012 officially launched the Electoral Offenses Court at the Law Court Building on Siaka Steven Street in Freetown. The Hon. Chief Justice noted that notwithstanding the recent turbulent situation in some parts of the country, Sierra Leone continues to enjoy a fair amount of peace and stability. This she said has been possible because of the hard work and resolve of the government and  Sierra Leoneans.


She said peace is a very valuable commodity and it could only be achieved when there is  Justice. She said that as the country prepared towards elections on the 17th November 2012, it is important that modalities are put in place to ensure that law and order is maintained. She stressed that  violations of electoral laws such as  perpetrating electoral fraud and violence of any form is criminal and culprits will be made to face justice in a fair and swift process. 


Hon. Chief Justice giving the importance of the electoral offenses court.


According to the Hon. Chief Justice, in 2007, the hard work of election stakeholders and the successful operations of the Electoral Offenses Courts made Sierra Leone to become the envy of most democratic governments and institutions through out  the world. She used the forum to express  the courts determination in ensuring that they build on those successes that they have made for the pending  2012 elections . 


Hon. Justice Tejan Jalloh announced that all the modalities have been put in place for the courts to commence sitting, whilst further revealing that these courts will sit for twelve months instead of six months and will adjudicate on all cases relating to the Elections as well as hear all elections petitions  arising before, during and after the elections.


Hon. Justice Tejan Jalloh said there will be six courts altogether, and they will sit throughout the country and will ensure that all areas are covered. The Chief Justice called on all Sierra Leoneans to work together to ensure the success of these courts and ensure that once again, Sierra Leone have a peaceful, fair and transparent elections.


NEC chief and a cross section of development partners at the launching.


She further used the forum to thanked development partners who are providing the much needed support for these courts and the electoral cycle project 2011-2014.


United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director, Madam Mia Seppo said the establishment and launch of such courts only underscore the commitment of the government and people of Sierra Leone not only to the right to peaceful, free and fair elections, but to the right to peacefully challenge elections results and elections offences through legitimate and credible courts of law in a timely and appropriate manner.


She said the UNDP being a genuine stakeholder to the management and conduct of the coming parliamentary, presidential and local councils elections amongst others is honoured and proud to associate themselves with this noble cause.


Madam Mia Seppo furthered that the courts are intended to provide mechanism to deal with elections disputes with the objective of improving the processes and eliminating the violence that surround elections, adding that it will facilitate increased and efficient use of the legal system by all stakeholders for the conduct and monitoring of elections in Sierra Leone.


According to her, if properly utilized in all intent and purposes, these courts will further enhance credibility of the outcomes of elections, reinforce legitimacy of the governments, generate trust from the governed, and reduce incidences of conflicts which are critical elements to the pursuit of sustainable development in the country. She called on all stakeholders  to grasp the opportunity being provided by the introduction and the launch of these electoral offences courts.


Legal luminaries, NEC commissioners and development partners at the launching.

Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Dr. Christiana A. Thorpe in her statement said that, the launch of the Electoral Offences Court is yet another important milestone in our stride towards achieving peaceful and credible election. She said NEC is  grateful for the collaboration they have been enjoying with the Law Officers Department, the Law Reform Commission and the Sierra Leone Bar Association.


She expressed special appreciation for their contribution towards the review of the Electoral Laws of Sierra Leone which she said has culminated in the passage of the Public Elections Act 2012. Dr. Thorpe maintained that the establishment of the Electoral Offences Court has underpinned Sierra Leones contribution to the Accra Principles of Electoral Justice (APEJ), which was launched last September in Accra, Ghana and of which Kenya, Ghana and Sierra Leone are pilot countries.


She also thanked development partners for making the launch a reality and the Hon. Chief Justice and her team for their support and guidance, whilst expressing hope that the Elections Offences Court will stand up to the daunting task ahead and prove once more that Sierra Leone has become off age.


Earlier on briefing the audience on the importance of the court, Consultant Master and Registrar, Mrs. Julia Sarkodie-Mensah said that pursuance to Section 131 (3) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone; the Electoral Offenses Courts have been established as a Division of the High Court of Sierra Leone. She said the court as established shall try offenses committed under the Public Elections Act 2012, Act No.4 of 2012 and hear petitions arising from the coming  2012 elections. The court according to Mrs. Mensah, will sit in Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema respectively. 

The Acting Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Sulaiman Bah on behalf of the Attorney General expressed the ministrys support to the court and stated that they are looking forward to courts cooperation in prosecuting such  cases.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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