Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, while welcoming his counterpart, the Hon. Chief Justice of Ghana-His Lordship Justice Anin Yeboah said their duty as Judges and the Judiciary during the forthcoming elections will be to uphold the rights of citizens to elect or be elected as a representative to hold a public or government position or right to participate directly in a democratic process.

According to him, elections are a specialized activity, and while they occur once in a while, they form the basis for getting a democratically elected government in power. The competitive and politically divisive nature of elections in a multi-democracy like Sierra Leone and its technical complexity makes the process of electing persons to political offices vulnerable to abuse, disputes, fraud and violence.

“There is always and invariably the need for an effective mechanism to prevent, mitigate, or resolve disputes that are likely to arise in every electoral process,” said Chief Justice Edwards, adding that the mechanism involves the use of Courts and the personnel of such Courts called Judges.

When Candidates are dissatisfied with results after the election, he continued, or offences are committed during the elections period it is the Judiciary and Judiciary alone that can come in to give validity and finality to the process through a process called Electoral Justice.

In his Keynote statement to declare the three days of training officially opened, he said, “as we prepare for another electoral cycle, electoral disputes and offences are likely to begin to come up again for adjudication.”

“While the disputes and petitions may be multifaceted, our roles as Judges in preserving that right to vote and in ensuring that electoral justice is adequately and promptly meted out still subsists,” Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice concluded.

On his part, the Hon. Chief Justice of Ghana, His Lordship Justice Anin Yeboah said elections can perpetrate violence and social unrest, adding that these are glaring because of the lack of effective leadership as well as divisive politics.

“The Judiciary can only come in when its jurisdiction is invoked to intervene to settle the issues brought before the Court,” said Chief Justice Yeboah, stressing that the role of the Judiciary in resolving electoral disputes and the interpretation of those laws is very critical to the entire electioneering process.

The three days training is organized by Attorney General Alliance Africa (AGA Africa Programme)in partnership with the Judiciary of Sierra Leone on the theme- ‘Fostering Peaceful, Credible and Inclusive Elections in Sierra Leone.’

“Through this workshop, the AGA-Africa Programme hopes to strengthen the Judiciary’s ability to handle electoral disputes and its ability to deliver…” said Markus Green, AGA Africa Programme Board Member.

Credit: Judiciary Communications.