With President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in attendance on Sunday, 12th September 2010 at the St. George’s Cathedral Church marking the official opening of the 2010/2011 Judicial Year, Rt. Rev. Arnold C. Temple, President of the Conference of Methodist Churches showered benediction on the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh and thanked her for her efforts at improving the Judiciary rise from its moment of decadence. The Annual ceremony attracted eminent Sierra Leonean personalities including Government Ministers, Doctors, Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, civil servants and members of the public.
Delivering his sermon, the Preacher at the ceremony, Rt. Rev. Temple noted justice is an important virtue in the lives of human beings which should be maintained at all times. He lamented however that it was because of the lack of justice in Sierra Leone at some point in her history, that led to the eleven years civil war which took huge chunk of the lives of the people, and destroyed infrastructure and property at all levels. He however pointed out that the causes of that war are yet to be properly analyzed noting with frankness that the causes cannot be unconnected with the prevalence of injustice, misrule, greed and wickedness in the country at the time.
“The misplacement of justice and misrule by the Executive was the main cause of the eleven years war in Sierra Leone,” Rev. Temple noted. He therefore went on to point out that there still remain in the country’s law books, “outdated laws that are discriminatory” and called for them to be reviewed.
The distinguished Cleric went on tom urge the judges, magistrates; lawyers to dispense justice judiciously as it befits the law, noting that many a time, innocent people have suffered because of what he referred to as “travesty of justice and misplacement of justice.”
According to the Cleric, man cannot truly judge another man, noting that but because of law, as a guiding principle in maintenance of order and respect for each another, man has assumed the position of judge, and admonished that in so doing, every aspect of the law should be taken into consideration and that judgment should be pronounced without let or favour.
“God is the only judge of mankind. He is the overall judge of what ever mankind does,” he stressed, noting that the other judges are mere affiliate judges chosen by man-made systems to effect change in their societies.
He however pointed out, “judges will be judged by God in the final analysis, on the day of reckoning and it is only He that can determine right from wrong in the exercise of their roles in judging their fellow men,” he lectured.
He therefore implored the judges, magistrates and lawyers to have the fear of God in their hearts as they administer their judgments, and not to be carried away by any other earthly consideration that might undermine their credibility. He emphasized however that if justice is not maintained, peace will never reign in countries of the world, and postulated that when a nation lives on the divine standards of God, peace, stability and security will reign forever. He noted that the change of attitude that the president is calling for goes with forgiveness, fair justice to one another and must be upheld by all.
Whilst he continuously hammered home the need for judges to be upright and righteous in the dispensation of justice, he expressed reservation as to how many amongst the country’s judges that are upright and righteous. However, he noted that even though the country’s judicial system is said to be corrupt, there are still some upright and righteous people within, whom he said are fighting to change the system, amongst them, the Chief Justice, Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh.
“We can still boast of many righteous judges in the country, though not all of them are righteous,” he posited, adding that amongst the judges there are some who execute judgments like the Biblical Wise King Solomon or the wicked Pontius Pilate. He ended by recounting the long years of injustice in the country which culminated in the eleven years of destructive war and in the face of that admonished judges and all those dealing with the dispensation of justice in the country “to be very careful” how they about dispensing justice and reminded them, “mind you, one day, you too will die and you will face the judgment of the Supreme Being.”
It could be recalled that since becoming Chief Justice and Head of the Judiciary in Sierra Leone, Madam Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh has worked tremendously to improve the judicial system in the country. She formulated the Bail Policy which now gives right to women to stand bail for suspects in court, a system that was not available in previous times and also has ensured the speedy adjudication of cases away from the long drawn adjournments which had caused the denial of justice in time to most Sierra Leoneans.
*CORRECTED for "Anglican" to read "Methodist"