The Honourable Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards has in a short address to journalists said he’s aware of the many commendations from the general public regarding the ongoing reforms. Those commendations, he said, have emboldened his administration to do more if the requisite funds are available.
Responding to SLBC’s Deputy Director General’s question regarding impressive reforms, the Hon. Chief Justice said, “I cannot praise myself but it’s good that you are celebrating me in recognition of the reforms under my leadership. I’m well aware of them and I think we need to do more in the coming years with the much-needed support not only from the Government of Sierra Leone but from donors.”
He stressed that the only prerequisite to ensuring continuity of what has been achieved so far is funds, without which, he added, “reforms would be stalled.”
“We are determined to do more, we can only do so where the funds are available,” he reiterated, noting that “there’s more we want to do and there’s more to be done but our partners need to step up their support.”
Today marks his 4th Anniversary since he was appointed by His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio on 19th December, 2018, but subscribed to the Oath of Office on Friday, 21st December, 2018. After his appointment, the Hon. Chief Justice has centered his administration on increased access to justice, expeditious trials, efficient and transparent service delivery.
Chief Justice Edwards has been credited to be the first Chief Justice to open the Judiciary for Journalists to report unhindered with cameras and other media gadgets in Court rooms. He is also the first Chief Justice to subject himself to scrutiny by engaging Journalists at organised press conferences.
He has among other things effectively and efficiently decentralised the Justice sector from less than 30 percent to 70 percent in terms of access to justice, recruited and deployed Magistrates in every District as well as Judges in places where there were no sitting Judges.
In an effort to digitalize the Judiciary, he has for the first time established the first Virtual Court; first Sexual Offences Model Court; Anti-Corruption Specialized Court; Social Security Court and Small Claims Commercial Court.
His administration has also employed more women to senior management positions.
His efficient leadership has attracted international recognition which is evident in the appointment of the first Sierra Leonean Judge as Commonwealth Vice President, which was preceded by the payment of ten years outstanding dues to revive the Judiciary’s membership at the Commonwealth Magistrates andJudges’ Association.
In wishing Journalists’ Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year, the Chief Justice told them about the Judiciary’s Christmas in the City event, an initiative devised to entertain everyone including Judges, Magistrates and all staff after months of exhaustive work to deliver on their mandates. The event was not to praise sing his administration, but to challenge himself to do much more than he’s done in putting the country’s justice system among other outstanding judiciaries in the Sub-region.
In attendance were the entire Management of the Judiciary, the Prince of Wales Brass Band, the President of the Sierra Leone Court Reporters Association and other Journalists from print, electronic and new media (bloggers).