63 Judges, Magistrates For 7 Million People

By Ayodele Deen-Cole

A new report released recently by Campaign for Human Rights and Development (CHRDI) has revealed that there are only sixty three (63) Judges and Magistrate serving over seven million people across Sierra Leone.

The report which is titled: Justice under lockdown also makes critical observation about the low manpower in the judiciary which, according to them, is seriously affecting effective Justice delivery system in the country.

It was done to critically look into and highlights some of the shortcoming in the justice system in the country.

Speaking after releasing the report, the Executive Director of CHRDI, Abdul Fatorma said that access to justice is a fundamental human right for everyone as enshrined in both local and international constitutions.

However, he noted that, it is not the case in Sierra Leone where the unlawful detention of citizens without charges and with no regard for due process is being carried out repeatedly by State authorities.

He also raised many concerns over the capacity of the judicial system to work especially in period of national or global emergencies.

According to Abdul Fatorma, the low manpower of professional human and financial resources and the judiciary is a major challenge, as, according to him, there is need for rapid and decisive action by the government to ensure that the most vulnerable people have the necessary legal support and access to channel and address their legal problems.

He called on the government to appoint more judges and magistrate so as to reduce the high backlog of cases or trials and those that are not yet on trial.

Abdul Fatorma also noted that there is currently no system in the judiciary for genuine evaluation and validation of judges and no clarity on why some judges were removed and others were not, adding that it is a clear risk of bad governance in the judiciary, where they see the executive members as their superior.

He also called for effective system to be put in place to protect the position of judges and the integrity of the Judicial Council from outside interference.