The Dangers of Political Interference in Sierra Leone Bar Association Elections*

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by Mahmud Tim Kargbo

The Sierra Leone Bar Association serves as a vital institution in upholding the rule of law, safeguarding judicial independence, and advocating for the rights of citizens. However, the allegations of political interference in the Association’s elections by the two major political parties (SLPP and APC) poses a significant threat to its integrity, impartiality, and ability to fulfill its duties effectively. This article explores the dangers of alleged political interference in the Sierra Leone Bar Association elections in Kenema and highlights the importance of safeguarding judicial independence from partisan influences.

The Role of the Bar Association in Upholding Judicial Independence:

The Sierra Leone Bar Association plays a crucial role in upholding judicial independence by advocating for an impartial, fair, and transparent legal system. Its mission is to safeguard the rule of law, protect the rights of individuals, and ensure that justice is administered without fear or favour. Today’s allegations of political interference in the Association’s elections in Kenema undermines these fundamental principles and erodes public confidence in the legal system, jeopardising the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

The Threat of Partisan Influence on Judicial Decision-making:

Today’s alleged political interference in the Sierra Leone Bar Association elections in Kenema poses a direct threat to the independence of the judiciary and the impartiality of legal decisions. If the two major political parties (SLPP and APC ) exert influence over the election process, there is a risk that judicial appointments, rulings, and disciplinary actions could be influenced by partisan interests rather than legal considerations. This politicisation of the legal system undermines the principles of justice, fairness, and accountability, jeopardising the rights of individuals and the rule of law.

Undermining Public Trust and Confidence:

The perception of political interference in the Sierra Leone Bar Association elections in Kenema erodes public trust and confidence in the legal system, casting doubt on the impartiality and integrity of judicial decisions. When the Bar Association is perceived as being beholden to political interests rather than upholding legal principles, citizens may be less inclined to seek redress through the courts, leading to a breakdown in the rule of law and a weakening of democratic institutions. Maintaining the independence and autonomy of the Bar Association is essential for preserving public trust in the legal system and upholding the values of justice and accountability.

Protecting Judicial Independence and Professionalism:

Safeguarding the integrity of the Sierra Leone Bar Association elections from political interference is essential for protecting judicial independence, professionalism, and ethical standards within the legal profession. By upholding the principles of transparency, fairness, and impartiality in the election process, the Bar Association can demonstrate its commitment to upholding the rule of law, defending the rights of individuals, and promoting a just and equitable legal system. Political interference undermines these core values and threatens to undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the Association in fulfilling its mandate.

The dangers of political interference in the Sierra Leone Bar Association elections cannot be overstated. Upholding judicial independence, impartiality, and professionalism within the legal profession is essential for safeguarding the rule of law, protecting the rights of citizens, and maintaining public trust in the legal system. The Association must remain vigilant in safeguarding its autonomy from partisan influences, ensuring that its election process is conducted fairly, transparently, and free from political interference. By upholding the principles of judicial independence and professionalism, the Sierra Leone Bar Association can fulfill its vital role in promoting justice, accountability, and the rule of law in a democratic society.

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