Senior Advisor Human Rights Justice and Rule of Law of the UNDP, Nana K Busia, has disclosed that around 80% of the population still do not have access to formal justice system and relies on local mechanisms based on customarily law.
Addressing police officers yesterday in a three-week training of police prosecution at the Senior Officers’ Mess at Kingtom, Mr Busia added that this training was part of the Peace Building Funds (PBF) initiative aimed at building the capacity of the personnel in the legal and justice department of the Sierra Leone police, including equipping them with high level prosecutorial skills.
The senior Advisor disclosed that, “working with the government and other international partners, I am pleased to say that there have been remarkable successes achieved by both previous and present governments in these sectors”.
He stressed that it is highly commendable that the police and other security personnel had in the last five years or so demonstrated a capacity to maintain law and order a necessary pre-requisite for peace in any society.
The police, Mr Busia disclosed, in contemporary Sierra Leonean society with the support of the United Kingdom and the United Nations, were known to be more disciplined and operational; certainly than it was worse before the war.
In his address the Inspector General of Police (IG), Brima Acha Kamara, admonished the police prosecutors to be confident and discharge their duties with professionalism.
He added that the essence of the training was to enhance their capacity in evidence gathering.
Giving an overview of the training, Inspector James Kargbo said the purpose of the training was to empower the capacity of prosecutors in the arts of prosecuting and that of investigators regarding the gathering of evidential materials. Inspector Kargbo maintained that the training would broaden their knowledge on the rules of evidence, adding that it would develop their confidence building capacity regarding their professionalism duties and ethical obligations. He further noted that it would help identify the linkages and gaps in the process of gathering evidential materials and that of establishing them in court.
“When these are achieved in this course”, he commented, “it is hoped that we will win public confidence by offering a reliable, efficient, effective, caring and accountable policing service that sustain access to justice”.
In his statement Mr Gebremedhim Hagoss from UNIOSIL said, “we hold the view that no foundation can be laid for sustainable peace, stability and economic development in any country emerging from conflict, if it is not grounded on justice and the Rule of Law”.
Mr Hagoss stated that the combined effect of the lack of capacity of police prosecutors, the absence of state counsels and the inability of the accused to retain private counsel was quite obvious.