In the pursuit of justice and fairness within the judicial system of Sierra Leone, the annual Prisons Week, held from September 22nd, 2023, in various judicial districts, marked a significant milestone. During this week, the esteemed Chief Justice embarked on a mission to review cases tried in the Magistrate Courts, with a specific focus on cases where accused persons had been granted long adjournments without a fair hearing or had received sentences exceeding the jurisdiction of the Magistrate. This initiative aimed to ensure that justice was not delayed or denied, and it relied on the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders within the legal and justice system.
One of the pivotal aspects of this year’s Prisons Week was the active participation of police prosecutors from the Legal and Justice Support Department of the Sierra Leone Police in the provinces and Freetown. Our dedicated professionals, who play a crucial role in the initial stages of legal proceedings at the Magistrate Courts, attended the hearings with a clear mission in mind.
Observe the proceedings:
The police prosecutors, together with the esteemed head of the Legal and Justice Support Department, CSP Joan M.S Bull Esq, attended the hearings to meticulously follow the observe the proceedings and verify the circumstances surrounding the cases being reviewed. Their presence was instrumental in ensuring that justice was not only served but was also seen to be served. Their objectives included:
Examining Prolonged Adjournments:
The team diligently assessed whether accused persons had endured prolonged adjournments without receiving a fair hearing, thereby contributing to delays in the judicial process.
Identifying Hardcore Criminals and Recidivists:
In cases where the accused were potentially classified as “hardcore criminals” or individuals with a history of repeat offenses, the police prosecutors played a pivotal role in identifying such individuals. Their expertise allowed them to pinpoint hardcore criminals and recidivists, ensuring that these cases received special attention during the review process. This proactive approach aimed to minimize the risk of reoffending after the individuals’ release or following the review of their cases, aligning with the broader objective of enhancing public safety and preventing further criminal activity.
Monitoring and recording Sentences with Judicial Oversight:
During the review process, the judges were responsible for assessing cases where accused individuals had received sentences that appeared to exceed the jurisdiction of the Magistrate. The presence of police prosecutors during these reviews played a crucial role in ensuring a record of sentences with judicial oversight. This collaborative effort aimed to prevent any potential misunderstandings regarding sentences and to maintain a consistent and proportionate approach to punishment based on the gravity of the crime committed.
The collaborative efforts of the police prosecutors and their head during Prisons Week were marked by dedication, professionalism, and a commitment to justice. Several matters were heard and determined by the judges who provided directives to various Magistrates for expediting the hearing of pending cases. This collective endeavor not only upheld the principles of justice but also ensured that the legal process was fair, transparent, and efficient.
The participation of police prosecutors and their head from the Legal and Justice Support Department exemplifies the collaborative spirit of Sierra Leone’s legal and justice system. Their presence at the hearings underscored their dedication to upholding the principles of justice, ensuring that accused persons receive a fair trial, and contributing to the expeditious resolution of legal matters. Their commitment to this initiative reflects the unwavering pursuit of justice and fairness in Sierra Leone’s judicial landscape, and their involvement is a testament to their invaluable role in the legal system.
As we continue to strive for a more just society, the Prisons Week serves as a shining example of what can be achieved through collaboration and a shared commitment to the principles of justice. Hearings continue Monday the 2nd of October 2023 at Waterloo Prisons and Saturday the 8th of October 2023 at Pademba Road Correctional Center.