The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, whilst commending the massive reforms at the Judiciary under the leadership of His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, outlined the remarkable achievements in just two years.
In his presentation on “Deepening Sierra Leone’s Democracy: Prospects and Challenges,” the SLAJ President said under the current Chief Justice, magistrates have been deployed in all Districts in the country, including Falaba and Karene.
For the first time, he continued, places such as Kailahun District, Port Loko District, Moyamba District and Koinadugu District now have resident High Court Judges.
According to him, this is indeed a new Judiciary, adding that, “we should be encouraged by the recent ruling of the highest court in the land giving victory to an opposition politician in the high profile political matter of dual citizenship.”
President Nasralla saluted the Judiciary for opening its activities to the public through their Communications Department.
“We should also be encouraged by the new public face of the once very conservative Judiciary arm of Government, now operating a Public Relations Department to interface with the public,” he said, noting that, “The fact that the Judiciary is also now allowing media cameras and recorders in court rooms during high profile public cases is a good prospect for justice.”
He reminded the public that the Sierra Leone Judiciary was rated high above Nigeria, Uganda, Turkey, Mexico, Niger, Pakistan and a host of other countries in the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2020.
Another remarkable stride he highlighted by the Judiciary is the digitalisation drive with the first virtual court being established and a responsive website where all judgments are now posted.
He told the jam-packed hall that there are still challenges, referencing acces to justice.
He said despite the positive reforms taking place in the Judiciary, access to Justice still poses a huge challenge not only in Sierra Leone but Africa in general. This, again, is mostly attributed to lack of financial support by the Governments or a deliberate attempt by the politicians to stifle justice and redirect it in their favours.
In Sierra Leone, considering the number of Judges amidst the growing population of around 7million, according to the census conducted by Statistics Sierra Leone, there are still not enough judges to dispense effective and efficient justice.