The newly appointed Deputy Master and Registrar of the High Court Eastern Region, Bo and Moyamba Districts Francis Banks-Kamara has held a consultative forum with stakeholders, heads of departments, traditional rulers, the law court officers and the press in Kenema district.
The meeting took place at the High Court room in Kenema on the theme “Introduction and the role of the Deputy Master and Registrar Eastern Region”, Problems facing the legal exercise in Kenema and the way forward, and a Memorandum of understanding between the court officials and general public cooperation.
In his opening remarks the chairman of the meeting Mr. Francis Banks –Kamara who is the new Deputy Master and Registrar Eastern Region said this is the first time in the history of the Sierra Leone judiciary wherein the position of Deputy Master and Registrar is moved to the provinces,- people in the provinces have never heard of such a position and he is the first Sierra Leonean to be appointed to the post.
Talking about the role of the Deputy Master and Registrar he said he is required to submit monthly reports of all activities, monitor and supervise the monthly returns of the Magistrate and JPs within their Jurisdiction and in particular, ensure that these returns are submitted timely not later that the fifth day of each month.
He also was there to sign all writs and court documents that are required to be signed by the Master and Registrar. Further that all payments must be made to the sub-treasury and be properly receipted. Under no circumstances he said should fees or fines collected be used for any other purpose whatsoever.
He also explained that he was there to ascertain the reasons for the delay in the conduct of cases in general and to make recommendation to speed up trial in both magistrate and high court.
Also to determine how best various organizations within the Eastern Region can work together to improve the delivery of justice and to try to implement the task force report dated 23rd January 2008.
Hold monthly staff meeting and submit copies of the meeting to the Master’s office; monitor the proper use of all Judicial Property within the jurisdiction and report any anomalies promptly. Attend to all staff issues and complaints and refer appropriate ones to Freetown.
Mr. Kamara disclosed to his audience that less than two weeks the High Court has disposed of about 39 backlog criminal cases. Those who secured conviction were committed; those who secured caution and discharge were discharged.
He assured his audience that he is in the region to work not against them but to work in collaboration with them within the framework of the Sierra Leone legal system. He called on all and sundry to always visit his office as it is always open to the public.
In her keynote address the Resident Judge Hon. Mrs. Justice Nyawo Maturi-Jones described the duties of the Deputy Master and Registrar as an Administrative head in the Judiciary system who signs writs and other government processes which include taxation.
She further explained that the Deputy Master and Registrar got his power from the Master and Registrar. She identified the challenges in the Judiciary and boldly highlighted them for reform like a code of conduct which had earlier been made for judicial personnel including those in the high hierarchy.
Justice Maturi-Jones informed all that the Judge and the Magistrate do take Oaths to be impartial in the discharge of their duties. The new High Court rules which she described as cumbersome was also mentioned. The head of the District Registrar in Bo, Kenema and Makeni is the Deputy Master and Registrar.
The task force which was formed by the His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma immediately he took over the reign of government was highlighted as a venture in the right direction which mandated the task force member to find ways to address the course of delay in cases in the Judicial system.
In his contribution the Regional Crime officer Samuel Sanie Sesay said he is happy with the consultative meeting. saying that he had earlier planned to hold such a meeting when he was transferred to the Kenema Jurisdiction but his efforts were fruitless. He further disclosed that there is a misunderstanding between the law enforcement office, the police, the traditional or local court officers as to their mandate in the execution of their different duties. He further stated that he would wish for such a meeting in the near future. Mr. Sesay frowned at some incidents involving criminals whom he had taken strain to apprehend only for them (the alleged suspect) to be seen parading the streets of Kenema, this he said hinders their work as police officers. He said such problems should not occur in the High Court, saying there is a problem in the Magistrate Court, which he would wish the Judicial authorities to address.
The Bishop of the Kenema Diocese Bishop Patrick Daniel Koroma in his contribution said he does not believe in going to court. He said before you take your neighbour to court you need to come to terms with him or her. Reconciliation according to him is paramount. He would wish for reforming measures rather than punishment.
The Principal of the Nasir Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School in Kenema Mr. Sandy Moijue thanked and appreciated the presence of the Deputy Master and Registrar in the province but said he regrets that his other colleague principals are not present in the meeting emphasizing that such meeting is not only important for stakeholders but the school children as well in order for them to know about the law as it will help to change their attitude. He requested for a workshop for school children and the official of the Judiciary to be available to be talking to schoolchildren at assembly time in schools as it will help the situation there by minimizing crimes in the society.