Perceived Lack of Justice in Sierra Leone Continues to Undermine Civil Cohesion and National Development

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Law Courts Building

By Amin Kef Sesay

The Black Civil Rights Activist ,Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1955 responding to an accusation that he was “disturbing the peace” by his activism during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, replied that, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice,” adding that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstance, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.

Justice renders to everyone his due. Justice is giving everyone willing to work hard the chance at a good job with good wages, no matter what their name is, what their skin color is, where they live.

Justice is living up to the common creed that says, I am my brother’s keeper and my sister’s keeper. Not only love from parents, neighborhood, but love from Police, love from politicians. Love from somebody who lives on the other side of the country. That is what justice is.

For Justice to be effective and efficacious, it should not only be done, but should … be seen to be done. Justice to be fair should be indiscriminately due to all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank.

However, the widely held perception in Sierra Leone today is that the legal system doesn’t work. Or more accurately, it doesn’t work for anyone except those with the most resources. Not necessarily because the system is corrupt.

We should not think our legal system is corrupt through and through to the point where it is unable to dispense justice. It is simply because the costs of our legal system are so astonishingly high that justice can practically never be done.

As such, Justice remains the tool of a few powerful interests; with legal interpretations continuing to be made to suit the convenience of the oppressor powers.

Only one thing will create peace and end terrorism in our country— the creation of a just society. If there is no justice, there will never be peace. If there is no justice, there is no hope for any of us…

The foundations of justice are that no one shall suffer wrong; and that the public good be promoted. Thus, we must understand that for society to be peaceful and cohesive, justice must be given indiscriminately; even to the lowest.

If there has been any crime, it must be prosecuted. If there has been any property of the State illegally transferred or leased, it must be recovered. If anyone commits a crime, however high in society, he/she should be held accountable by law. That is what justice is.

Socially, there is only one way to establish justice and that is to share the resources of the country more equitably which we refrain from doing. Without sharing there will never be justice. Without justice there will never be peace. Without peace there is no future for us.

For society to be truly governed by the rule of law, Parliament and all the political parties must be at the forefront of the advocacy to the Judiciary to impartially, dispassionately and objectively bring actions for the enforcement of the law in the courts so that if there is any guilt it will be punished; if there is any civil liability it will be enforced; if there is any fraud it will be revealed; and if there are any contracts which are illegal they will be canceled; and for every right of the people and the Government to be protected.

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