In an unprecedented evolution and by a Constitutional instrument tabled and passed in Parliament, The Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Desmond Babatunde Edwards has, among other things, established a Special Division of the High Court to try cases charged by the Anti-Corruption Commission expeditiously.
The Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court structure will be exclusively responsible for handling corruption related matters brought before the courts with a view to ensuring that they are handled expeditiously by dedicated judges in a specially equipped court for that purpose.
For now, the Anti-Corruption Court will be located in an isolated part of the Law Courts Building and specifically designed to have its own staff, Registrar and special processes and procedures. Five (5) judges have been assigned to the division: Hon. Justice Reginald Sydney Fynn, Hon. Justice Miatta Maria Samba, Hon. Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi, Hon. Justice Cosmotina Jarret and Hon. Justice Simeon Allieu.
One of the persistent criticisms in the fight against corruption has been the delay in the trial of cases brought forward the courts by the ACC. Some cases usually take more than 3 years in court before judgements are passed.
The establishment of the special court for the trial of corruption-related cases is a fulfilment of the President’s promise in the Manifesto and in Parliament, and a major deliverable for the Francis Ben Kaifala-led ACC and the judiciary. Once operational, cases will now move faster and will be better organised; and will further assure the people of Sierra Leone that ACC can secure justice for them within a very limited time frame.
Additionally, significant progress has been made so far with the Anti-Corruption Amendment Act 2019 that was tabled in Parliament (both the first and second readings of the Bill have been completed and committed to the legislative Committee for final consideration). The Act will strengthen the powers of the ACC and ensure greater efficiency in carrying out its mandate. The ACC is determinedly optimistic that these strategic and necessary adjustments, once fully operational, will strengthen the fight against corruption and set the country on a firm trajectory for corruption control within the shortest possible time.