11 September 2017

Sierra Leone: Law School Saga - Affected Students Slam Ombudsman's Report

Some fifty-three aggrieved law graduates who were refused admission into the Sierra Leone Law School in 2013 apparently because they fail certain core modules have expressed disappointment over a report released by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The aggrieved fifty-three students had filed a complaint in 2015 against the Sierra Leone Law School on allegation that the school had unlawfully denied them admission ostensibly because they had not passed some core subjects while studying for their Bachelor of Laws (LLB).

The law graduates insist that the criteria to pass all the core law subjects was not a statutory requirement for admission and that the only requirement, as enshrined in the Council of Legal Education Act 1989, is a Bachelor's degree in law with honours at such level as the Council of Legal Education may determine.

According to the Ombudsman's investigation report, even though passing of core law subjects was not a statutory requirement, such specific requirements need not be statutory because educational institutions reserve the right to set their standards of entry, progression and graduation.

The report notes that there is no change in the requirement for admission into the school as the school's handbook and website clearly state that applicants must have studied and passed six core subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law, Criminal Law, Contract Law, Equity and Law of Trust, Land Law and Law of Tort.

However, in an interview with Concord Times, one of the aggrieved students, Thomas Moore Conteh described the report as "unjust" and accused the ombudsman's office of colluding with the Law School to deny them admission into the school.

"The report is unjust. The ombudsman never did due diligence to our complaints. No proper investigation was carried out. The report only promotes the interest of the Sierra Leone Law School, while we are still in the dark," he said.

Asked as to what they wanted from the Ombudsman, Mr. Conteh said they were hoping that the report would have been in their favour, thus according them the opportunity to complete their childhood dream of becoming barristers.

"We see no reason why we should be denied admission unjustly. The Law School has been selective and discriminatory in their approach," Mr. Conteh noted and disclosed that three of his colleagues have died as a result of frustration, amongst other things.

He claimed that students have been admitted into the school in the past despite their failure to pass certain core modules.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone on Friday September 8, 2017 released a letter written to the Law School requesting the latter to respond to the allegations levied against them by the aggrieved students.

The commission stated that if they fail to respond by Friday, 15 September, 2017 they will utilise the evidence in their possession and publish report together with their final decision.

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