Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards has assured the Carter Center Observation Mission to Sierra Leone that the Judiciary is prepared to expeditiously handle election offences and petitions when they come up during the electoral cycle.
“We’re going to handle these elections with the promptness they deserve, and I assure you that everybody is ready to do a good and decent job when the time comes,” Chief Justice Edwards assured.
He said as an electoral justice body, the Judiciary has the duty to ensure that justice is not only done at all times, but should be “manifestly and undoubtedly” seen to be done.
He went on to state that if there’s any disorder during the process be it in the form of disruptions or offences committed, the Judiciary has a role to play in keeping the order of society while elections may be ongoing.
Briefing the team about the Judiciary’s preparedness so far, the Honorable Chief Justice said the Judiciary, with support from its partners, has put together a Compendium of all laws that have an incline with elections.
He added that the Judiciary with support from the European Union and the United Nations Development Program through the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (JLTI), organised training for Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature and Registrars with special attention given to how to expeditiously deal with electoral cases and when to order a rerun or to declare an election void.
He went on to state that in the area of communications and outreach, plans are at an advanced stage to roll-out strategic communications messages aimed at bringing the work of the Judiciary during the elections period closer to the people.
He said the Courts are going to be run on a temporary basis to cover the entire electoral cycle as provided for by law.
Field Office Director, Cater Center Observation Mission to Sierra Leone, Mr. Nicholas Jahr said they’re a team of four with each of them deployed already in the four regions to cover every district in the country for the purpose of observing the elections.
He said the courtesy call on the Chief Justice is part of ongoing engagements with key stakeholders such as the Police, the Electoral Commission and now the Judiciary so as to be brought to speed with how the process looks like from the perspective of the Judiciary and how the electoral process is taking shape around the Court.
He lauded the reasoning of the Chief Justice and his administration in so far as preparedness for electoral justice is concerned.
He assured that their team will give “international and impartial” perspective to the elections and their processes.
He concluded that he was pleased to know that the Judiciary’s independence has been upheld at all times under the current Chief Justice.
Legal Analyst of Carter Center Observation Mission to Sierra Leone, Mrs. Despina Efstathiou said the frank discussion with the Judiciary has added insight to their work relating to electoral justice.