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Sierra Leone News: Judge grant State’s application for the adoption, adaptation of penal sections

Justice Bankole Thompson has on Thursday 14, march, 2019 ruled in favour of State Counsel R. B. Kowa’s application for adoption and adaptation of certain provisions of CAP 54 of the Laws of Sierra Leone as amended by Act No.1 of 1982, which is the Commission of Inquiry (COI) Act. Lawyer Kowa had applied that the orders are those that are required by the Instrument ,which guides the Commission and for sections 18,19,20,21,22, and 23 to be adopted. “I did state that there are relevant sections of CAP 54 which could be adopted as was earlier done when the directions were given. This tribunal did adopt section 9 of the COI Act as amended because they are already there” he submitted. Defense Counsel Lansana Dumbuya also argued that the legal effect of those sections is that sections 18,19,20,21,22, 23 should be read together and since 23 has criminalised the actions in 18,19,20,21,22 by giving penalties. This he argued further cannot be done without adopting section 12 and 17 of the same Act, which he states by adopting these two sections the Judge will see that the Commission cannot make decisions of criminal nature, so when an action has been criminalised it has to be done in a court. In his ruling, the Judge said that as a vital institutional mechanism of democratic accountability predicated on the forgoing reasoning, “I do hereby grant the State’s application for the adoption and adaptation of sections 12,18,19,20,21,22,23 of CAP 54 into the regulatory framework establishing the Commission to enhance and facilitates the realisation of its substantive mission in accordance with its mandate and ToR.” Justice Thompson also ordered that section 12 of CAP 54 be similarly adopted and adapted within the said regulatory framework. The Judge initially stated that after he had carefully considered the application by the State for the adoption and adaptation as part of the regulatory and procedural framework for the execution of the mandate and ToR of the COI established pursuant to Constitutional Instruments No. 65, 2018, certain provisions of the COI Act- CAP 54 of the Laws of Sierra Leone as amended by Act No.1 of 1982 to wit section 17,18,19,20121,22 and 23. Coupled with the opposing submissions of both Counsel Kowa and Dumbuya and also the merits of the aforesaid application, he said that he paid preeminent regard to and be guided by certain pieces of legislation compendiously referred to as the foundational instruments regulating the mandate and ToR by the Commission in order of normative importance.

  • Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 1991, particularly section 150
  • The COI Act CAP 54 as amended, specifically sections 9,12,17, 18,19,2021,22,23
  • The Constitutional instrument s
  • Sierra Leone high court rules 2007
  • The COI practice directions promulgated by the Commissioners on 31 st January, 2019

He concluded by saying that, construing the relevant provisions of the aforementioned foundational legislative enactments severally and conjunctively in their liberal and purposes sense, rather than in a restrictive manner, “I have attached much weight to the aforesaid pieces of legislation as indispensable jural imperatives for the efficient and expeditious discharge by the Commissions of its mandate and specific terms of reference.”

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Friday March 15, 2019.