The Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL), on Friday, 4th October 2019, at the Sierra Lighthouse at Aberdeen in Freetown released a report on the status of the bail regulation of 2018. Since April 2019, CARL, and its implementing partners have monitored 2,105 court cases across the fourteen (14) districts involving 1,983 male, (94.2%), and 122 (5.8%) female accused persons. The report further stated that, the total number of charges/counts preferred were 2,309 with Western Area recording 818 (35.4%) offences, Kenema 457 (19.8%) offences, Bo 230 (10.0%) offences, and Port Loko 140 (6.1%) offences. The report further revealed that out of the 2,309 monitored offences, Larceny accounted for 543 (19.7%); sexual penetration 299 (11.6%), along with 333 cases of sexually related offences, which are the third most prevalent offences. The prevalence rate of offences relating to conspiracy was also very high and accounts for 193, (9.0%) of the total cases monitored. Wounding is also prevalent, and the data on the report showed that it accounts for 137 (5.3%). Another most prevalent offence is fraudulent conversion and the data showed that 87 of such cases were monitored, representing 3.9%. a host of offences not specified in the monitoring tool, recorded as “others”, amounted to 313 of the total number of cases, representing 14.2%.
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Executive Director, Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law, Ibrahim Tommy, said, the findings from the bail regulation clearly demonstrates that the process still faces serious challenges. However, the release of some prisoners who have been over detained is a good sign that the said regulation will one day yield the expected result. Tommy said, the findings were a clarion call, and the presence of judicial officers is a testament that they will comply with the bail regulation of 2018. “Every individual has the right to freedom and should be granted bail when accused of minor offences.” Tommy went on. “Pre-trial detention shall be a measure of last resort.” He added. Justice Komba Kamanda re-affirmed that bail is an integral part of the justice system. Justice Kamanda said the constitutional instrument No.5 of 2018, Bail Regulation defined bail as an agreement between a defendant and the court, and the defendant will attend court as and when required. “Granting bail should be the norm and not the exception, and to reinforce this view, Section 3 sub Section (2) of the bail regulation must apply its state. “Where a prosecutor wishes to oppose to bail it shall be in an affidavit whom, averment must be supported by cogent documentary proof.” said Kamanda. He however, said, the brilliant innovations in the bail regulation shows there is need for a monitoring mechanism. “The judiciary has set up a monitoring mechanism through the supervision of various courts, on the other hand, he welcomed the external intervention of stakeholders like CARL, Prisons Watch, Humanist Watch etc.
By Sulaiman Karim Sesay
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