In an impassioned open letter to the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah, Esq., has called on the country’s judicial system to uphold its fundamental duty of administering justice and safeguarding democracy.
The letter, addressed to the Chief Justice, Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature, and other judicial authorities, comes in response to events at the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sierra Leone Bar Association in Kenema.
Marrah’s letter expresses grave concerns over the judiciary’s role in what he describes as a re-emergence of the failures documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
He highlights that the TRC had previously indicted the judiciary for abandoning its duty, leading to widespread institutional collapse and deprivation among the populace.
Reflecting on the AGM, Marrah criticizes the judiciary for not granting requests for a fair and democratic process, suggesting that this inaction undermines public confidence in the legal system.
“If lawyers who are licensed to approach the courts for justice on behalf of their clients cannot obtain justice for a free, fair, and democratic conduct of their own elections, what then is the fate of the masses?” he writes.
Marrah urges the judiciary to actively defend democracy and not ignore acts of injustice, political oppression, and legitimate dissent. He emphasizes that the judiciary should be an impartial arbiter, free from political influence, and should ensure that those who commit political and social injustices are held accountable.
“The Constitution in section 120(1) states that the judiciary is subject only to the Constitution of Sierra Leone and other law but not to the control or direction of any other person or authority,” Marrah reminds the judicial authorities, stressing the need for judicial independence.
The letter also compares Sierra Leone’s judiciary with those in other African nations, advocating for a judiciary that stands firm against executive overreach and democratic tyranny.
Marrah warns of the dangers of a passive judiciary, which could lead citizens to seek alternative, potentially divisive, sources of justice and hope.
Concluding his appeal, Marrah cautions the judiciary against being co-opted by the executive branch, highlighting the tragic consequences of past failures to uphold democratic principles. He calls for a renewed commitment to judicial independence and accountability, essential for the protection and perfection of Sierra Leone’s democracy.
Marrah’s letter stands as a fervent plea for judicial reform and vigilance, reflecting widespread concerns about the state of democracy and justice in Sierra Leone.