Bail and sentencing instrument training for legal practitioners ends in Sierra Leone

Apr 10, 2017

Photo: UNDP Country Director Samuel Doe handing over the certificate to one of the beneficiaries- Honourable Ms. Justice Amy Wright © UNDP Sierra Leone

Freetown/April 10- Fourteen (14) Judges and Magistrates have concluded a training session on the Training of Trainers on their new curricula for the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (JLTI) at the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone. The training seeks to support the Chief Justice and senior management in the enhancement of the professionalism of the Judiciary.

From 29 April – 7 May 2017 separate training of trainers were held for Legal Practitioners in readiness for the new bail and sentencing policy that has been developed under the project Promoting Transparency in Sierra Leone’s Judiciary. 37 legal practitioners were certified comprising State Counsels, Police Prosecutors, Lawyers and Defence Counsels as well as paralegals. 11 out of the 37 beneficiaries are women. The certification of trainers on bail and sentencing is the start of a comprehensive training plan that will be rolled out once the bail and sentencing policy is approved by the Rules of the Court Committee.

The training of trainers was organised by the Judiciary of Sierra Leone in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with financial support from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US Department of State).

The chairperson of the Bail and Sentencing Working Group, Hon. Justice N.C Browne-Marke, Justice of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone urged participants to “…take advantage of the training opportunity as it will help Judges and Magistrates to find a reasonable way of dealing with some of the minor offences rather than merely sending [offenders] to the correctional service centres’.

U.S. Mission Political Officer, Gregory Maggio, said the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has since 2009 provided more than $8.3 million to help Sierra Leone strengthen its justice, law enforcement, corrections services, and other key security institutions.

These programs, including the Promoting Transparency in Sierra Leone’s Judiciary project, affirm the United States’ commitment to helping Sierra Leone move forward in this post-Ebola reconstruction period in ensuring greater respect for human rights, democratic processes, and citizen security.

Mr. Maggio recalled in 2015 a Prison Watch presentation on prison and sentencing conditions in Sierra Leone, which highlighted the serious deficiencies in the country’s bail and sentencing policies and practices. He noted that, that meeting strengthened his confidence in his government’s commitment to fund this project, through observing an active, dynamic group from the judiciary, law enforcement, civil society the prosecutor’s office, and elsewhere, who were highly motivated to take on the major objective of the project.

UNDP Country Director Samuel Doe who took up office on 6 February 2017 reiterated the role of legal practitioners in maintaining stability. ‘For us in the UNDP, we are passionate about the important role of legal practitioners in any society.  There is no society in the world where order and the rule of law are sustained without the quality and consistency of the judiciary.  Judges, lawyers, legal aid practitioners are the guardian of the rule of law,’ Mr Doe said.

The UNDP chief maintained that the right of women and girls and their access to justice is fundamental in sustaining Sierra Leone’s hard-won peace and challenged the participants to pay close attention to this factor in the ongoing transformation of the Judiciary.

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