Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 January 2022:
Last Friday, Sierra Leone’s judiciary announced it would review the sentences of more than 1,000 detainees as part of what it describes as an effort to increase access to justice and decongest centres. corrections across the country.
This week, from January 31, 2022 to February 4, 2022, has therefore been declared ACCESS TO JUSTICE WEEK.
According to the latest press release issued by the judiciary; “This is one of the initiatives of the current administration provided by the Honorable Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, to improve access to justice and further decongest correctional centers by ensuring that detainees/accused or certain convicts have the opportunity to be heard and have their cases considered by specific judges deployed across the country by the Honorable Chief Justice.
“Following a stakeholder meeting involving the Judiciary, Sierra Leone Correctional Centres, Legal Aid Board, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Sierra Leone Police, it was discovered that a good number of detainees had access to justice issues,” the statement reads.
Of a total of 1,13 prisoners, 111 are awaiting trial without charge; 138 on lengthy adjournments due to lack of assembled jurors, 181 on bail but unable to meet their bail conditions to secure their release, 47 serving unjustifiable and disproportionate sentences from magistrates without a request for summary review in their favour, and 532 are behind bars without any bail admissions for possible bailable offences.
To address these injustices, 26 judges will be deployed across the country to ensure that prisoners have the opportunity to have their incarceration reviewed in prison courts that will be held outside prison facilities; while those who have not been charged would have the option of proceeding with their cases expeditiously or as justice demands.
But the impact of this Justice Declared Week will be felt throughout the justice system, as there will be a week-long suspension across the country where all other Court cases will not be heard except for matters to be dealt with during this court hearing. The week.[actofthisdeclaredJusticeWeekwillbefeltacrosstheJusticesystemastherewillbeaone-weekrecessacrossthecountrywhereallotherCourtmatterswillnotbeheardexceptforthosematterstobedealtwithduringthisJudicialWeek[actofthisdeclaredJusticeWeekwillbefeltacrosstheJusticesystemastherewillbeaone-weekrecessacrossthecountrywhereallotherCourtmatterswillnotbeheardexceptforthosematterstobedealtwithduringthisJudicialWeek
Indeed, no court settlements will take place as the judges will use all the courts in the country to expedite the process in a transparent manner, the statement from the judiciary said.