Sierra Leone: Attorney-General Holds Maiden Meeting

21 September 2020

Sierra Leone's Attorney-General and Minister of Justice on Thursday 17th September 2020 held a Maiden Meeting with Development Partners in the Justice Sector. The meeting was facilitated by and held at the Conference Room of the Justice Sector Coordination Office (JSCO), Special Court for Sierra Leone. The meeting provided an opportunity to interact and discuss areas of intervention for further strengthening the judicial and legal systems of the country.

The meeting was attended by the Head of European Union Delegation, a representative from the US Embassy, the Deputy British High Commissioner, the Country Representatives of the UNDP, OSIWA, UNICEF, FAO, Save the Children, Irish Aid and the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO).

Welcoming Partners to the meeting, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Umaru Napoleon Koroma Esq who also moderated the session thanked Partners for their continued support to the Government's justice reform agenda. He assured all of the Ministry's commitment to working with justice sector partners in promoting access to justice for all.

In his opening remarks, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Anthony Y. Brewah, expressed his delight at Partners for making time to honour his call in the midst of this global pandemic. He explained that he held the Maiden meeting in order to familiarise with their various interventions in the justice sector. He congratulated the JSCO for facilitating the meeting and for providing the platform for the interaction with Partners.

The Minister further noted that Development Partners have over the years supported justice sector reforms in the country but cautioned that there were still a lot more they could partner with government and do together.

Explaining the Government's Medium-Term National Development Plan (2019-2030), which is closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 16, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice highlighted that "Justice delivery services have been inadequate to meet the growing demand, especially for the most marginalised and deprived sections of the country". He emphasised that the Government is committed to promoting inclusive, fair, impartial, and accountable justice institutions to protect human rights and ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens for economic development.

He echoed therefore the critical leadership role of his Office in the provision of legal services for the Government, promotion the rule of law, ensuring that the fundamental rights and freedoms of Sierra Leoneans are protected and ensuring the provision of equal access to justice for all. Mr. Brewah however recognised the equally important role the Partners continue to play in strengthening the country's justice systems.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice was quick to note that his Office needs to be adequately modernised in order to provide the kind of strategic leadership and direction required for the delivery of accessible, affordable, and sustainable justice in the country. He informed the meeting that his Office has therefore put forward a proposal for the construction of a modern purposed built Justice Square Complex at the premises of the former Special Court for Sierra Leone. This facility, he disclosed, will also house justice institutions that his Office supervises. The Minister furthered that the Government has made some commitments towards the project and therefore called on development partners to support this initiative.

In their response, the Partners commended the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for providing the platform that brought all of them together and thereby giving them the rare opportunity to discuss their various interventions in Sierra Leone's justice sector reform agenda. They echoed the Minister's call for strengthening coordination and collaboration on justice sector programmes in order to ensure complementarity and avoid duplications. They also expressed their joy in Government's commitment to transforming the former Special Court Complex to a Justice Square and indicated their support to the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

Areas of justice sector interventions highlighted include the promotion of human rights, child justice issues, sexual and gender-based violence, judiciary and security sector reforms, legal empowerment, anti-corruption issues, fight against transnational crimes, access to justice etc.

Explaining the role of the Justice Sector Coordination Office, the Coordinator, Mr. Shahid M. Korjie thanked the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, his Deputy and all the Development Partners for their show of support to the justice sector. He explained that the very essence for which the JSCO was established in 2007 was to serve as the main outfit to facilitate, develop and support the implementation of the Government's strategic reform priorities for the justice sector, including the mobilisation of resources to support the achievement of Government's stated priorities for the sector. Mr. Korjie furthered that the emphasis is on ensuring a coordinated and systematic approach to reforms in the justice sector.

The Coordinator informed the meeting that the JSCO works with justice sector MDAs, Development Partners and CSOs in identifying reform needs, gaps and challenges and that the outcome of which are encapsulated in the Justice Sector Reform Strategy and Investment Plan that is endorsed by the Government.

Mr. Korjie notified Partners that in furtherance of JSCO's coordination role, a specific Technical Working Group will be constituted with them to better promote collaboration and synergy.

In concluding, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice thanked the Partners for their willingness to continue to support Sierra Leone's justice sector agenda. He promised to continue his engagements with them.

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