• August 15, 2023

“JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IS INTEGRAL TO TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE”

“JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IS INTEGRAL TO TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE”
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Chief Justice Tells Ethiopia Delegation

Chief Justice’s Conference Room, Main Law Courts Building, Freetown, 14th August 2023 Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards has disclosed to the Delegation from the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice that judicial independence and access to justice are integral to transitional justice.

“Access to justice, judicial independence and integrity are integral to transitional justice and they give the public confidence in the mandate, function and operations of the justice system,” Hon. Chief Justice Edwards said.

According to him, the courts are open and only with an aggrieved party to approach the court to make his/her case against which the judges cannot do much apart from deciding the merit of the case.

He said after the 11-year civil war, what remained was the default 1991 Constitution which he said is the Supreme Law of the land and applied in all courts across the country.

The Chief Justice went on to state that the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, Act No. 6 of 1991 makes provision for the three arms of government:(Executive, Legislature Judiciary) which are separate and independent of one another.

He stressed that even though there’s interdependence among the three arms of government in terms of working together, he assured that when it comes to upholding the integrity of the judiciary as it relates to hearing and determining cases, the judiciary is independent, adding that “my judges as I know them will never do anything that is not in the interest of the people.”

As head of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, the Chief Justice said the Commission recommends to the President qualified individuals for appointment as judges and the President will do the appointment subject to the approval of Parliament.

He added that for transitional justice to take full effect, the appointment, tenure, salary and gratuity of judges should be backed by law as that is the case for Sierra Leone which has her judiciary built on core values such as independence, impartiality, equality, accountability and integrity.

The Hon. Chief Justice highlighted the role played by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the country’s transitional justice strides and the eminent lessons learnt.

Speaking on behalf of the team of thirteen (13) experts from the Transitional Justice Working Group of Experts (TJWGE), the Chairman of the delegation, Tadesse Kasse said the team which comprises independent experts and different people from all walks of life was appointed by the Justice Minister of Ethiopia.

He went on to state that they were mandated to do an assessment of regional and sub-regional countries who have successfully transitioned from pre-conflict and post conflict situations with the aim of discerning and putting together a transitional policy that works best for them.

According to him, the Transitional Justice Working Group of Experts (TJWGE) includes representatives from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, reemphasizing that the policy when eventually put together will be presented to the government for onward action.

Credit: Judiciary Communications

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