From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Judiciary Commissions Two New Courts
By Augustine Samba & Aruna Turay
Dec 10, 2010, 13:04

The Sierra Leone Judiciary, under the leadership of Chief Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh, has commissioned two newly constructed court houses plus a Judicial and Legal Training Institute in Freetown.

The various commissioning ceremonies that took place on Thursday 9th December 2010 attracted distinguished personalities including Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana, Inspector General of Police and his deputy, Francis Allieu Munu and Richard Moigbeh respectively, the newly appointed Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Frank Kargbo, newly appointed Deputy Minister of Information and Communication, Sheka Tarawallie, Judges, Magistrates and a host of other legal practitioners.

Newly dedicated Fast Track Commercial Court

The newly commissioned Fast Track Commercial Court and the Judicial and Legal Training Institute are situated at Government Wharf whilst the Magistrates’ Court is situated at Pademba Road.

In her statement at the Government Wharf ceremony, Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Her Lady Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh, thanked the Government of Sierra Leone and our donors for making the project a success, while describing the event as a land-mark in the history of the Sierra Leone Judiciary. “When we conceptualized the establishment of a Fast Track Commercial Court, it appeared ambitious and unbelievable,” she said, adding, “But here we are today to dedicate this court. Indeed, where there is a will, there is a way.”

Newly commissioned Magistrates Court at Pademba Road

The Chief Justice said the court and the institute form part of the strategy of judicial reform and access to quality justice, noting that both events are the first in the judiciary of Sierra Leone and therefore very historic.

“We are grateful to the government for making these two buildings which were until recently occupied by the CID and FSU available to us for the establishment of this Fast Track Commercial Court and Judicial and Legal Training Institute,” she disclosed, and further thanked the United Nations Peace Building Fund for providing the funding for the infrastructural changes and the UNDP for implementing the projects.

According to the Chief Justice, the Fast Track Commercial Court will take commercial justice to a different and higher level. “It is hoped that the time it takes to complete commercial and admiralty cases will be greatly reduced from 2-3 years to 6 months,” she said.

“The new Commercial Court Rules which are now in place makes provision for alternative dispute resolution,” she disclosed, adding that it is important for business people who do not want to spend too much time in court.

She explained that the court is fully automated to ensure speed, efficiency and transparency.

The Chief Justice pointed out that the simultaneous dedication of the training institute is no coincidence, noting that it was as a result of the imperative to build the capacity of the court’s human resource.

“The institute will provide continuous judicial education to judges and magistrates. This has become a common element in legal and judicial reform globally. Additionally, training in various forms and styles will be provided to law officers, police prosecutors, court interpreters, legal executives, judicial and other legal support staff,” she revealed.

She emphasized that the training will not only improve knowledge, but will also build judicial integrity and bring about attitudinal and behavioral change in the judicial and legal service.

At the Pademba Road Magistrates’ Court ceremony, the Chief Justice said the new court will ease the congestion at the law courts.

“This court was built and fully furnished with funding from Department for International Development (DFID), implemented by the Justice Sector Development Programme (JSDP) to the tune of five hundred and sixty six thousand pounds (approximately Le3,500,000,000.00),” she explained, adding: “This court house provides three court rooms, one of which is a child friendly court for juvenile offenders, two JP’s courts, a mediation room (which is necessary for the policy of diversion in juvenile justice) and other facilities. The court will have its own regular water supply as we are privileged to have our own borehole, here on the premises”.

Statement was delivered by Vice President Sam Sumana and cutting of tapes was also done by him.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.