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VP Jalloh Delivers ‘New Direction’ Position On access to Justice

VP Jalloh Delivers ‘New Direction’ Position On access to Justice & rule of Law to SLBA

Information Directorate, Youyi Building, Sierra Leone, and Tuesday 10th July, 2018-The Hon. Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh on Thursday July 5th 2018 delivered the ‘New Direction’ position on Access to Justice and the Rule of Law at the Annual General Meeting of the Sierra Leone Bar Association held at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Aberdeen, Freetown.

Representing His Excellency Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio at the Annual General Meeting, the Hon. Vice President used the occasion to clearly articulate the ‘New Direction’s’ position on improving access to Justice and Strengthening the Rule of Law.
The Vice President went on to outline the numerous challenges affecting the Justice System in Sierra Leone pointing out that the justice system is suffering from both systematic challenges and undue political influence which according to him has rendered the Justice System ineffective in it function to deliver justice to the people of Sierra Leone.

VP Jalloh noted that, this has resulted in a gradual erosion of public confidence in the justice system of the country. He assured the learned Lawyers that, under the ‘New Direction’ the government of His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio will cause to undertake the reform of the Judiciary and the Justice delivering system in the country; with a view to restoring public confidence in its independence and ensure every Sierra Leone has access to fear justice. 

In order to achieve this, the Hon. Vice President highlighted some of the measures that have been put in place which among them include the facilitation of a national dialogue on a new justice and rule of law system, establishment of a policy framework to enhance independence of the justice system and the expansion of access to justice, strengthening of the Legal Aid programmes in order to continue to provide Legal Aid to the volunrables, promote social dialogue with the Bar Association in enhancing  effective and efficient service delivery and strengthening the Judicial Service Commission for an effective management of an independent justice system.
Speaking on the Theme for this year’s Annual Meeting, “Expanding the Scope of Alternative Dispute Resolution: the Case for Change in the Landscape of Arbitration in Sierra Leone”, the Hon Vice President stated that the theme spoke on the compelling realities of the country’s Justice system, a reality he added, that will address the fundamental challenge of access to justice and enhancing the justice delivering system.

He emphasized on need for the value of an alternative system that will contribute in addressing some of the challenges in accessing justice which according to him will help reduce systemic stress of the prevailing justice delivering system.

He added that this will also help in the reduction of transaction cost associated with undue delays, complex court proceedings  and most importantly financial implications as majority of the citizens cannot  afford the cost to access justice.

He maintained that, the Alternative Dispute Resolution will only remain relevant if it can add value in enhancing access and delivering of justice.
He cautioned that this should not be conceived as a mere space for the expansion of arbitration but one that will contribute immensely  to building confidence in an effort to deliver justice to the people of Sierra Leone and create an environment that is favorable to promote business in the country.

He climaxed his statement by applauding the Sierra Leone Bar Association initiative and encouraged them that, the government of President Bio is ready to work with the Bar Association of the country in the expansion of the Alternative Dispute Resolution as a tool for arbitration; assuring that the government will provide the framework, policy environment and the resources to support Lawyers in their drive to make the Alternative Dispute Resolution a reality.

In her maiden statement earlier as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr. Priscillia Schwartz commended the Bar Association for staging such a remarkable meeting with an attractive theme and applauded the outgoing executive of the Association on it achievements. 
The theme she said is timely and was in line with government efforts in ensuring that every Sierra Leonean has fair access to justice. 
She spoke about Cap 25 which she said has become unqualified and that government is working on the bill as it is currently in the House of Parliament for repeal. 

Dr. Schwartz called on the Bar to include in their deliberations, international arbitration, international conventions and look at their framework and see how best it can fit into the country’s judicial system. She went on to encourage the Bar to also look at the role of bilateral and multilateral treaties , ways of assisting the government in the area of arbitration, law reforms, and other legal issues they may want to  achieve.

The President of the Bar Association, Rhado Sufuan Kargbo Esq outlined some of the achievements they gained during her two years term in office.
She said during her regime, her executive was able to collaborate with the Judiciary in the area of justice, issues affecting the profession, non timely delivery of judgment etc.

The outgoing President went on to state that as President of the Bar, her administration embarked on some projects and donated office equipments  to the Treasury Judiciary Unit and the Ross Road Court. She furthered that they also accorded scholarships to six of their colleagues and in their flagship programme, they were able to secure and fence an acre of land given to them by the Government of Sierra Leone. Proceeds for securing the land and fencing, she said, were contributions from members of the Bar and Mercury International.

She called on the President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio through the Vice President, to always be in constant consultations with the Bar on matters relating to the Judiciary.

Deputizing the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, Justice Abdulai Charm, Justice Sengu Koroma in his statement gave a thorough insight to the theme of the Conference.

The Chairman of the ceremony Francis Gabbidon Esq in his statement described the Alternative Dispute Resolution as a range of mechanisms that are available for resolving civil disputes without going to court.

Historically, Lawyer Gabbidon said civil litigation has been very expensive, time consuming, adversarial in nature and its disproportionate to the value of the claims and that at times it is not helpful. 

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