Judiciary of Sierra Leone Communications, Main Law Courts Building in Freetown, 28th June 2021: The Honourable Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, has returned home after attending the Fifth High Level Meeting for Chief Justices and Presidents of the African Constitutional and Supreme Courts & Constitutional Councils in Cairo, Egypt.
The Conference, hosted by the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt under the auspices of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Excellency Abdel Fattah Al Sisi commenced on the 12th June 2021 and ended on the 19th June 2021. The purpose among other things, was to explore thoughts and dialogue on how Supreme and Constitutional Courts could contribute to sustainable development and what efforts could be exerted to move forward on a more stable and prosperous future for Africans.
The Conference concentrated on the following:
Judicial ethics with a view to keeping delegates informed about the recent International legal developments affecting the notion and practice of Judicial ethics as regards the core values of independence, integrity, accountability, equality diligence and preservation;
Electoral Justice and the frequent resort to Judiciaries to settle electoral disputes as presenting a burden/challenge on Constitutional and Supreme Courts requiring the upholding of the highest virtues of independence, integrity, accountability etc.;
Environmental Law and the process towards Greening the Economy with emphasis on Judges being protectors of the Environment which is the wealth of the so-called poor and property of every citizen and the upholding of Environmental Rule of Law with a view to alleviating poverty and with a view to establishing a Green Economy;
Abolition of terrorism with a stringent posture from African Judiciaries.
The Conference ended with a Declaration, referred to the Cairo Declaration, with participants drawn from thirty-five (35) countries from the continent of Africa.
“Applauding African Judiciaries from across the continent who have and are still showing absolute dedication to their Judicial duties despite the real health and social risks posed by COVID-19 Pandemic;
Demanding progress from all in the area of fighting terrorism in all its forms given that it erodes the Democratic foundation of our societies, creates instability, threatens the safety and well-being of our citizens and residents and hinders sustainable development for generations to come, protecting the environment, ensuring Judicial ethics and electoral justice to play out;
Re-emphasing capacity building through continuous Judicial training and continuing professional development to build further capacities for Judges and Court Administrators;
Reiterating a conscious commitment to take all necessary measures to ensure the effective application of the Rule of Law in each country given that it is indispensable for the prevalence of social justice as a necessary pre-condition for all the enjoyment of fundamental rights by all our citizens and an important factor in support sustainable development; and Calling for increased co-operation among Judiciaries in all these areas and more.”
The Cairo Declaration also looked at the exceptional challenges confronting the African Judiciary in the COVID-19 era and the priority measures including virtual hearing and proper IT Technology needed to overcome them.
The Conference attracted distinguished personalities including Honourable Dr. Hanafy Aly Gebaly, The Speaker of the Egyptian House of Representatives, former Chief Justice of Egypt who was the founder of such High-Level meetings; Chief Justices and Presidents of Constitutional Courts, their Vice and Judges of Supreme and Constitutional Courts.
Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice who was part of the conference repositioned the Sierra Leone Judiciary at the international conference to market the many reforms. He has since resumed work on 24th June, 2021 with full energy to make the country’s justice system accessible amid other sustainable reforms.