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Dr. Yumkella speaks about Sierra Leone’s judiciary as parliament approves Appeals Court Judges

Democracy was at work in Sierra Leone’s parliament yesterday, when the main opposition APC party, led by  Honourable Chernoh Ramadan Maju Bah voted against two of the eight presidential nominees put forward by president Julius Maada Bio for MPs approval.

Justice Alhaji Momojah Stevens is of course the High Court Judge who is presently presiding over the alleged treason charges brought by this government against our former APC minister of defence and internal affairs – Retired Major Palo Conteh.

But with a slight parliamentary majority wielded by the ruling SLPP, other minority opposition parties – C4C, NGC, Independent MPs and Paramount Chief Members of Parliament voted to approve the two Judges, along with the following six presidential nominees:

Sheikh Alhaji Yayah Sesay-Deputy Bank Governor 2, Bank of Sierra Leone; Mrs. Hawah Humu Wurie-Member, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency; Ms. Constance Bockarie-Member, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency; Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock-Member, Board of Directors, Sierra Leone Local Content Agency; Major General Sulley Ibrahim Sesay-Chief of Defence Staff; Hon. Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi-Justice of the Court of Appeal.

They include problem of access to justice, especially for groups such as poor people, children and women, the absence of both individual and institutional independence, judicial corruption, lack of adequate resources, huge backlogs of cases leading to long delays, inefficiency of staff, and the politicization of the judiciary.

Other justice sector institutions like the Sierra Leone Police and the Sierra Leone Correctional Services are also in dire need of reform to foster professionalism and to reduce executive interference in the functioning of these institutions.