With financial support from United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Judiciary of Sierra Leone under the leadership of His Lordship the Hon. Chief Justice, Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards has embarked on massive public education programs on judicial reforms and the roles of the stakeholders in the effective implementation of the Constitutional Instrument No. 5 of 2018 or commonly called Bail Regulations, 2018.
According to the Public Relations Officer of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone Moses Lamin Kamara, he said on Radio Kiss 104 in Bo, Radio MODCA in Moyamba, Eastern Radio in Kono and Radio Mankneh F.M 95.1 in Makeni that, the Hon. Chief Justice strongly believed that Section 120 Subsection (3) of the 1991 Constitution makes provision for the Judiciary to be subjected and accountable to the people of the country, noting that, the ongoing public education on judicial reforms and the content and full implementation of the Bail Policy was purposely designed in connection to the aforesaid constitutional provision.
Mr. Kamara said, the United Nations Development Program has been very supportive in ensuring that cases are tried expeditiously and the right of accused persons are observed. He revealed that UNDP secured the aforesaid through the training of judges, magistrates and judicial staff on Case Management, Bail and Sentencing Regulations, provide office equipment like photocopiers and other as requested and also fully support the operations of the Office of the Public Relations.
He said, the Judiciary under the leadership of the Hon. Chief Justice Edwards, has gone through a lot of reforms among which is the national distribution and full implementation of the Bail Regulations, creating more High Courtrooms by relocating all magistrate courts from the Main Law Court Building to the Padember Road Court, the recruitment of one Court of Appeal judges, seven High Court Judges and also the promotion of four court of Appeal judges to Supreme Court, two High Court judges to Court of Appeal and one Magistrate to High Court judge.
Upon assuming office, the Hon. Chief Justice Edwards visited the Male Correctional Center that was hosting over two thousand inmates. He had frank discussion with them and assured them of his commitment to expeditious and fair trial as stated in section 23 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
Keeping to his words, the Hon. Chief Justice instituted for the first time UNDP funded Out-door Prison Court in which two thousand inmates limited to those without indictments, on judgement reserved, prolong adjournment, mentally deranged etc. countrywide; had the opportunity to appear before judges and presented their plights. Four seven (47) of the longest serving inmates were released on habeas corpus applications and others were put on bail, discharged and acquitted and discharged. This activities decongested the Male and Female Correctional Center from over two thousand inmates to one thousand six hundred and sixty-six inmates including those running sentence. Mr. Kamara further revealed that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) funded the Special Sessions in Moyamba, Portloko and Kono in which two hundred and eleven criminal verdicts were delivered in eleven days.
Mr. Kamara said, the Judicial and Legal Training Institute of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone has conducted several UNDP funded trainings among which were the trainings on the usages and application of the version two of the Justice App, Case Management, Bail and Sentencing etc. He said all those trainings conducted, aimed at strengthen unhindered access to justice and expeditious trail for all in Sierra Leone.