Chief Justice Assures Commonwealth Elections Observer Mission
Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards has on 21st day of June, 2023 assured the Commonwealth Elections Observer Mission to Sierra Leone that the Judiciary under his administration has moved from a conservative institution to a transparent and accountable institution that is open to public scrutiny.
“Before I took over in 2018, our Judiciary was ranked among the most conservative institutions in the country as is the case with other jurisdictions in the Sub-region. But that narrative has been completely changed with my administration more committed now than ever before to transparent, accountable and efficient justice delivery,” said Chief Justice Edwards.
He said the Judiciary’s day-to-day operations are no longer shrouded in secrecy, adding that cameras are now allowed to broadcast live from the court room and with a vibrant Communications Unit in other to get the general public to understand its work and operations.
Asked about the Judiciary’s preparedness to deal with electoral offences and petitions, Hon. Chief Justice said the Judiciary with support from its partners has put together a Compendium of all laws for ease of reference by Judges.
He added that the Judiciary with support from the European Union and the United Nations Development Program through the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (JLTI), organized training for Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature and Registrars to equip them to handle all electoral cases in a timely manner.
He went on to state that in the area of communications and outreach, the Communications Unit is currently rolling out strategic communications messages aimed at educating the general public on how to access the Electoral Courts across the country, electoral offences and civil remedies.
He stressed that 26 Judges have been assigned to the Elections Offences and Petitions Court, which will be run on a temporary basis to cover the entire electoral cycle as provided for by law.
The President of Caribbean Women in Leadership & Chairperson, Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies, Grenada, Lady Anande Trotman-Joseph, said they’re a team of 12 observers chaired by H.E. Yemi Osinbajo, former Vice President of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
She said the courtesy call on the Chief Justice is part of ongoing engagements with key stakeholders in electoral management.
Hon. Justice Amraphael Mbogholi Msagha, retired Judge of Kenya lauded the reasoning of the Chief Justice and his administration in prioritising public education, outreach and prompt interface with the general public.
In attendance also were Justice Rohini Marasinghe, Chairperson of The Human Rights Commission and former Supreme Court Judge of Sri Lanka and Madonna Lynch, Senior Administrative Officer.
Other members of the Observer Mission include: Mr John Njie, National General Secretary (Executive Director) of The Gambia YMCA & National Coordinator of the CSO Transitional Justice Working Group, The Gambia, Dr Nasim Zaidi, former Chairman and Chief Election Commissioner, India, Mr Sangwani Mwafulirwa, Director Media and Public Relations, Malawi, Dr Elsie Nghikembua, Chairperson Electoral Commission, Namibia, Ms. Cynthia Mbamalu, Co-Founder and Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Nigeria, Mr. Glen Mashinini, Commissioner Electoral Commission, South Africa, Mr. Wesley Gibbings, Journalist/Media Trainer, Trinidad & Tobago, Ms. Elizabeth Lwanga King, Development Advisor and Former UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Sierra Leone, Uganda.
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