SIERRA LEONE BAR ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE RESOLUTIONS 2nd -3rd JULY 2010
·Joseph F. Kamara Esq. President
· Reginald S. Fynn Esq. Vice President
·Ady Macauley Esq. Secretary General
· Lornard Taylor Esq. Asst. Secretary General
· Solomon A.J. Jamiru Esq. Public Relations Officer
· Ms. Beryl E.T. Cummings Treasurer
· Ms. Simitie Lavaly Assistant Treasurer
· Ms. Bintu Alhadi -Officio Member
· Crispin F. Edwards Esq. Ex-Officio Member
WHEREAS the Sierra Leone Bar Association (“the SLBA”) for the first time in history, held its Annual Conference outside of the metropolis of Freetown, at the Wusum Conference Centre, Makeni, Bombali District, in the Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone on 2-3 July 2010. The City of Bo, in the Southern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone, will be the venue for the 2011 Annual Conference.
AND WHEREAS the members present after thorough deliberations adopted certain resolutions;
It was resolved AND IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS:
Our Constitution (Act No. 6, 1991), being the supreme law of Sierra Leone is still fraught with inadequacies, considerably lacking effective protective mechanisms for promoting and protecting fundamental rights and freedoms; as well as securing the fullest enjoyment of political, Social and economic rights especially for the ordinary citizenry.
RESOLVED, that the SLBA urges the Government of Sierra Leone and relevant stakeholders to conclude the on-going Constitutional Review Process and increase public advocacy, cognizant of gender sensitivity and access to justice for all.
2. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
A free press is the cornerstone for the success of democracy in Sierra Leone, and an essential ingredient to a free society.
The people’s right to a free press and the freedom of expression is guaranteed by Section 25(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991 which provides that ‘no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, and for the purpose of this section the said freedom includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, freedom from interference with his correspondence, freedom to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions, and academic freedom in institutions of learning.s”
It follows that a free press is an inalienable right of the people of Sierra Leone.
Any pressure brought to bear on public media will erode this right contrary to the spirit and intent of the concept of liberty and the Constitution.
We also believe that the SLBA urges the Government of Sierra Leone to ‘abolish’ the outmoded criminal libel laws under the Public Order Act of 1965. These laws were copied from the United Kingdom, which by Section 73 of the Coroners and justice Act 2009, finally abolished the repugnant provisions.
3. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
THE SLBA NOTES that Freedom of Information is a fundamental tool to the protection and promotion of human rights. The right to access information is a vehicle through which the Government can be held accountable and Sierra Leone can boast of a system which actively seeks to ensure the preservation of rights and liberties.
WE FURTHER NOTE that the right to access information has been shown to be fundamental to eradicating corruption and enhancing democracy, as it encourages citizen’s participation in governance, informs electorates on voting choices, and creates a transparent and open society. Of equal importance, Freedom of Information is essential to providing all citizens’ access to justice, thereby providing a means to prevent and overcome poverty by strengthening people’s choices to seek and obtain a remedy for grievances. Ensuring Freedom of Information is a progressive and critical step in protecting human rights, accountability and access to justice in Sierra Leone.
RESOLVED, the SLBA recognizes and welcomes the cabinet paper approving the Freedom of Information Bill. As members of the Bar understand the intricate legal instruments that grant human rights, the SLBA expresses its fullest support for the enactment of a Freedom of Information law.
The SLBA recognizes its strategic role to advocating and/or ensuring the due process of law, as well as the independence, impartially and integrity of the judiciary; bearing in mind the overarching aspiration of regaining public confidence in our justice system, and recognizing that the lack of an independent and efficient judiciary is a recipe for chaos and a defining of a filed state.
RESOLVED, that the Government takes deliberates steps as a matter of urgency to review the conditions of service of Judges and Magistrate, which still remains abysmally low and unattractive. The sum of Le 714,645 (seven hundred and fourteen thousand, six hundred and forty-five leones) or ($178) a month for a magistrate, is ridiculous. Government must enhance the capacity of the judiciary and transform it into a self accountability authority.
FURTHER RESOLVED, that judges together with the Bar, abate unwholesome long delays and prohibitive costs of justice delivery, abuse of authority and powers, resulting in unlawful searches, seizures, detention & imprisonment; and weak enforcement of laws.
THE SLBA calls upon the Judiciary to urgently address serious lapses with the Under Sheriff’s OFFICE. Processes commencing actions are either never served or at best, unduly delayed. Writs of fieri facias and Writs of Possession are negligently unexecuted or intentionally abated, thus depriving a successful litigant the fruits of judgment.
RESOLVED, that the Judiciary and Legal Services Commission take deliberate steps, without further delay, to do the needful with regards to the state of affairs of the cases against Honorabe Justice Halloway, Edwards and Sesay. Particular attention is drawn to the impact on litigants whose cases had been pending in Court for a long time, and had been adjourned for Ruling or Judgment, and those whose cases had reached the stage of final addresses. It is very unfair and unfortunate to have cases hung over the heads of justice like the sword of Damocles, for a period spaning between 6 months to two years, without being heard. Justice delayed is justice denied.
5. SEPARATION OF POWERS
WHEREAS we note with utter dismay certain misapprehension of the basic principles of governance by government functionaries and feel compelled to alert a seemingly unsuspecting and complacent public of the lurking danger.
WE NOTE, that the executive of government continues to interfere with and usurp the functions of the Judiciary. We are aware of orders for unlawful arrests and dentition of persons, compulsory eviction and destruction of private property, wrongful demand for release of detainees lawfully arrested, all without due process of law.
FURTHER NOTE that the Judiciary has always been, and shall remain separate and independent from the Executive and the Legislature. It is not, and should not be regarded as, part of the Governance team. Legality of government action is subject to judicial scrutiny. Unless the Judiciary is truly independent, it cannot fulfill its role of ensuring that Acts passed by the Legislature are consistent with the Constitution and the international obligations of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
RESOLVED, and call on the Executive branch of Government to recognize and respect the role of the Judiciary and desist from wanton and undue interference with the lawful execution of their functions.
FURTHER RESOLVED, that His Excellency the president Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, be reminded of his maiden address to Parliament, (paragraph 33) promising to introduce the separation of the office of the Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice.
COGNIZANT that separation of powers is a key component of democracy, the SLBA now calls on the Presidency to act upon its promise and split the office of Attorney-General from that of Minister of Justice.
6. PROPOSED INQUEST ON NPRC KILLING
WHEREAS THE SLBA, cognizant of its role as the guardian of the sacred fire of freedom and justice, and the duty to share our objective and enlightened opinion, on all issues of national concern.
MINDFUL that in December 1992, the SLBA made representations to the then Attorney-General, condemning the Killings of Salami Coker, Bambay Kamara and others, and also challenged the NPRC Government to produce evidence of the application of due process (trial before a court law). That position remains unchanged.
RESOLVED that in view of the TRC report, the Commission of Inquiry Act, the Lome Amnesty; and the Special Court Ratification Act, an Extraordinary Session of the Bar be convened to enable members have thorough deliberations thereon and make appropriate recommendations to Government.
RESOLVED that the SLBA will resist the temptation to descend into the political fray and get muddled by the dust. The SLBA will remain outside of mainstream politics and zealously guards its neutrality.
DATED THIS 8TH DAY OF JULY, 2010
Solomon Jamiru Esq Joseph F. Kamara Esq Ady Macauley Esq
Public Relations Officer President Secretary-General
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