Court Clerks and Bailiffs trained by the United Nations Development Program four years ago have expressed disappointment over the way they are being treated over their salaries and backlog owed them by the Judiciary. They were trained to help in the dispensation of justice in the country and most of them were assigned to the provinces whilst others were assigned to the Law Courts in Freetown.
Speaking to Awoko, most of the affected workers revealed that, since UNDP pulled out from the programme, they have been owed their salaries for months and that, following the withdrawal of UNDP, their salaries were reduced from Le 220,000 to Le 130,000 monthly by government. There are also reports that, since they went through a three months training by UNDP, they were never given a certificate.
The Master and Registrar of the Judiciary, Edwin Bailor in a recent press briefing organized by the Ministry of Information stated that, the issue of backlog salary was not to his attention and that, he was aware all backlog salaries of staffs within the judiciary were paid . “There is no court official that has not been paid his backlog”, Bailor said.
But according to Gbassay Mohamed Tarawalie, the Accountant at the Sub-Treasury department at the Law Courts, he was aware of the backlog salary of the court clerks and bailiffs but stated that, the Establishment Department and the Accountant–Generals Department had some role to play on the issue. “The Establishment Office is responsible for all government employment and the Accountant-General’s Department for payment. When the Establishment Office employs and gives out pin code to staff, it is the responsibility of the Accountant-General’s Department to verify and make payment to those staffs”, Tarawalie said.
He also blamed the UNDP for not officially communicating to them when they wanted to pullout of the whole programme. “There was no official communication between UNDP and us when they wanted to withdraw from the programme as that would have made us prepare an exit strategy”, Tarawallie said. He said, he has been liaising with the Establishment office to find a lasting solution to the problem. He also stated that, when government took over, most of the staffs were not issued employment letters by government. However, a letter from the Establishment Secretary dated 12th September 2006, proved otherwise. “I am directed to offer you an appointment as a Temporary Court Bailiff in the Judiciary Department, Ministry of Justice with effect from the date of assumption of duty in that capacity”, stated the letter, signed by Avril Cummings for the Acting Establishment Secretary. Judiciary is undergoing a reform process.
Meanwhile, the court officials are appealing to the authorities concerned to look into their plight even as the judiciary is undergoing reforms.
By John Baimba Sesay