The Chief Justice of Sierra Leone – Desmond Babatunde Edwards has established a Special Division of the High Court to expeditiously deal with those charged to court by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Sierra Leone’s judiciary is notorious for delaying cases at a heavy cost to the government as well as those whose lives are blighted by suspicion of wrongdoing.
The Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court structure will be exclusively responsible for handling corruption related matters brought before the courts, to ensure that they are heard promptly by dedicated judges in a specially equipped court for that purpose.
The Anti-Corruption Court will temporarily be located in a separate area within the Law Courts Building in Freetown, and specifically designed to have its own staff, Registrar and special processes and procedures.
The following five judges have been assigned to the division: Hon. Justice Reginald Sydney Fynn, Hon. Justice Miatta Maria Samba, Hon. Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi, Hon. Justice Cosmotina Jarret and Hon. Justice Simeon Allieu.
One of the persistent criticisms in the fight against corruption has been the delay in the trial of cases brought forward to the courts by the ACC. Some cases usually take more than three years in court before judgements are passed.
The establishment of the special court for the trial of corruption-related cases, is a fulfillment of President Bio’s promise in the SLPP Manifesto and in Parliament, and a major deliverable for the Francis Ben Kaifala led ACC and the judiciary.
Once operational, cases will now move faster and will be better organised; and will further assure the people of Sierra Leone that the ACC can secure justice for the people within a reasonable time frame.
Additionally, significant progress has been made so far with the Anti-Corruption Amendment Act 2019, that was tabled in Parliament. Both the first and second readings of the Bill have been completed and committed to the legislative Committee for final consideration.
The Act will strengthen the powers of the ACC and ensure greater efficiency in carrying out its mandate.
The ACC is determined and optimistic that these strategic and necessary adjustments, once fully operational, will strengthen the fight against corruption and set the country on a firm trajectory for corruption control within the shortest possible time.