SLAJ Commends Judiciary of Sierra Leone
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) welcomes and applauds the decision of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone to allow, for the first time in its entire history, the national broadcaster (SLBC) to enter the courtroom with their cameras and tape recorders and report live on the proceedings.
For this privilege to start at the Supreme Court, the highest Court in the land, during delivery of a landmark judgment on Election Petition, is in itself not only worthy of commendation but gives an indication of the new thinking of the country’s justice system.
â€œThis as a huge boost to freedom of the media to bring important information to the people; and the promotion of transparency and accountability in the dispensation of justice,â€ said SLAJ President, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla.
Furthermore, SLAJ wishes to appreciate Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards for his leadership in adopting this policy, and the role played by the Director-General of the SLBC, Joseph Egbenda Kapuwa Esq., (who is one of us) in convincing the Judiciary to open up to the public.
Meanwhile, SLAJ and its affiliate body the Sierra Leone Court Reporters Association (SLCRA), who have also been lobbying the leadership of the Judiciary in this regard, hope that the privilege will not only stop with this election petition ruling, and should be extended to other media houses.
Kailahun Resident Judge Sentences Mother For Trafficking Daughter
Judiciary of Sierra Leone Communications, Luawa Chiefdom in Kailahun Town, Thursday, 22nd April, 2020: The resident High Court judge of Kailahun District, Hon. Justice Francis Banks-Kamara, has sentenced Satta Vandy and her brother for child trafficking contrary law.
Accused Satta Vandy, the mother of the victim, her mate-Hawa Bockarie and her brother-Nabieu Vandy were before the Kailahun District High Court Judge to answer to two counts of child trafficking and conspiracy contrary to section 2 (1) of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2005. According to the particulars of offence, the accused persons on the 8th day of October, 2020 at Pendembu town in the Upper Bambara chiefdom, Kailahun District in the eastern province of the Republic of Sierra Leone trafficked Jattu Vandy.
The 1st accused Satta Vandy and 3rd accused Nabieu Vandy pleaded guilty. The 2nd accused, step-mother to the victim pleaded not guilty.
After the plea in mitigation by the 1st and 3rd accused, Justice Banks-Kamara said he has never come across such a mother like accused Satta Vandy who was so wicked to take her biological daughter for sale.
â€œChild trafficking is an offence under our law,â€ said Justice Banks-Kamara, noting that it is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, kidnapping of a child for the purpose of slavery, forced labor and exploitation.
In his judgement, the Hon. Judge sentenced the1st accused Satta Vandy to five years imprisonment and the 3rd accused Nabieu Vandy sentenced to four years imprisonment.
The judge ordered that the alleged purchaser, Sopheana, should appear before him. He also ordered the Exhibit Officer at the Kailahun police division to appear before him and produce the motorcycle that was reportedly used to transport the accused.
He ordered that the Officer in Command (Kargbo) at the Pendembu police and wife of the Paramount chief, Madam Lucy Gordon, who was the first point of contact should also appear during the next Court session in May, 2021.
Meanwhile, bail was granted to the 2nd accused.
NEW U.S AMBASSADOR PAYS COURTESY CALL ON ACC COMMISSIONER
The new Ambassador of the United States of America to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, paid a courtesy call on the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone, Francis Ben Kaifala, at his 3 Gloucester Street Office in Freetown, earlier today, Wednesday 21st April, 2021.
The purpose of the Ambassador’s visit was to meet with the recently awarded International Anti-Corruption Champion by the US Government and to consolidate the already existing ties between his Embassy and the ACC as a key driver within the governance architecture of Sierra Leone. They also discussed the vision and drive of the ACC, the focus in the next few years, and how the US Government can continue supporting the great work that the ACC is doing.
In his statement, Ambassador Reimer congratulated Commissioner Kaifala for his recent recognition by theÂ U.S State Department as â€œInternational Anti-Corruption Championâ€, and encouraged him, on behalf of the Government of the United States of America, to continue doing more.Â Ambassador Reimer admonished the Commissioner and team to remain steadfast in the fight against corruption, as it is currently producing great results for the country.Â
He assured of his Government’s continued support to the ongoing fight against corruption, adding that the fight benefits both Sierra Leone and US interests within the framework of the Biden administration and going forward.
In his response, the Commissioner of the ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala, expressed deep appreciation for the visit of the Ambassador and his team, stressing the need for increased cooperation and support of the US Government, through the Embassy, in the effort to ensure conscientious and lasting corruption control in Sierra Leone. He updated the Ambassador and team on the work, aspirations, current investigations and other activities of the ACC and thanked them for their continued valuable support in ensuring a strong campaign against corruption with visible impact and results. The Commissioner also outlined the challenges that the work of the Commission is faced with, including limited resources, capacity constraints, toxic socio-political environment, etc.; but hastened to add that the Commission will continue doing its very best to keep producing results notwithstanding those challenges.
The former Fulbright Scholar ended by expressing further appreciation to the U.S State Department for his recent recognition as an â€œInternational Anti-Corruption Championâ€ which was as a result of the remarkable and result-oriented Anti-corruption campaign that is being led in Sierra Leone,Â and assured the AmbassadorÂ that,Â “such prestigious recognition will only further inspire me to continue to do more for the country.” He also thanked the United States Government for choosing Sierra Leone as a worthy qualifier for the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, which positions the country to benefit from resources that could be helpful in addressing critical development needs of citizens.
The United States of America and Sierra Leone share strong bilateral and diplomatic ties that dates back to 1959, when the First U. S Consulate was officially opened in Sierra Leone; which was later elevated to the status of an Embassy following the attainment of Independence in 1961 of Sierra Leone from the British.
Â PIH To Construct Maternal Centre in Kono
With a clear vision of reducing maternal and child mortality in Kono District and Sierra Laone in general, Partners in HealthÂ (PIH) has, in collaboration with the Ministries of Technical & Higher Education (MTHE)Â and Health & Sanitation (MoHS) on 23rd April, 2021, turned the sod for the construction and operationalization of a Maternal Health Centre of Excellence (MCoE) in Kono District.
The event, which attracted a host of Government Officials, Members of Parliament, International and Local Stakeholders, was in a bid to enhance the expansion of Koidu Government Hospital with a state-of-the-art 166 bed women and childrenâ€™s teaching hospital.
The project was jointly funded by Partners in Health (PIH) and Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) with an investment of $18.2 million and $6.8 million respectively.
Representing the Minister of Technical and Higher Education (Prof. Alpha Wurie), the Chief Technical and Higher Education Officer in the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Dr. Josephus Brimah, expressed his heartfelt delight for such a laudable venture that will not only impact on the lives of the people of Kono but also of the people of Sierra Leone health-wise.
He noted that MTHE has had series of discussions regarding the need to have this proposed institution of excellence be recognised as a provider of requisite training in the medical profession, adding the Ministryâ€™s readiness to work with other state institutions in achieving Sustainable Development Goals SDGs 3 and 4 which dealÂ with â€œgood health & well-being and quality educationâ€ respectively.
According to Dr. Brimah, MTHE intends to include and recognise the proposed Centre of Excellence in the newly drafted University Bill 2021, with an expectation that the proposed institution will, in future, stand tall in Sierra Leone’s educational sector.