OPINION: The Independence And Impartiality of The Judiciary in Sierra Leone is on Trial

Nearly two years ago, an outspoken critic of the government of president Julius Bio, the leader of one of the smaller opposition parties, the ADP, Mr Mohamed Kamaraiba Mansary,was arrested and charged for an alleged sexual offences against an alleged 15 years old girl.

Since then, Mr Mansaray has been in detention at the central Pandemba Road prison, while every efforts by his lawyers to secure bail have been consistently denied.

In the last 5 months of his protracted incaseration, one would think that the defendant’s case has been frozen because his right to habeas corpus– to appear before a judge to defend himself against the charges has slipped into the state of judicial inactivity.

The Pandemba Road prison is a death induced prison as described in the US state department reports on human rights violations in its country’s report on Sierra Leone.

Reports also indicates that Mr Mansaray’s health is being affected due to his prolong detention without bail or trial. This has been confirmed by doctors who examined him.

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Public concerns and protests including from human rights organisations in the country have been raised over what observers now suspect Mr Mansaray’s continuing detention without bail or trial is politically motivated,which appears to suggest a weakness in the Judiciary and raises questions about their independence.

The attorney General is a member of the government representing the state. He has charged Mr Mansaray with a very serious offence and every right thinking person would like to see Mr Mansaray brought to court to defend himself, without undue or unnecessary delay.

The victim of such alleged horrific sexual offence is equally entitled to get justice so that she can get on with her life.

But the guilt of an accused or a defendant charged with a criminal offence cannot be presumed or established whilst he remains in continuous detention.

The independence of the judiciary must be at all times and always be preserved as it’s the ultimate protector of our freedom, liberty and justice regardless of status,background or political affiliations.

I would like to remind the judiciary of President John F Kennedy’s famous human rights quote:

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened”

I ask you, in the judiciary and justice system including lawyers and human rights advocates in Sierra Leone to ponder on Kennedy’s quote.

FAO. The Sierra Leone attorney General: Release Mr Mansaray Kamaraiba Mansary from jail if you don’t have evidence to prove his guilt on the charges you had made against him or if you cannot produce such evidence in court to establish his guilt.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

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