The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has expressed “its deepest disappointment and consternation at the Supreme Court’s failure to deliver judgement in the association’s case seeking a repeal of Part 5 of the Public Order Act of 1965 which criminalises libel.”
In a release issued yesterday, the Associations says “The failure by the Supreme Court … to rule in the SLAJ case up to now, after the final arguments had been made on 9th March 2009, leaves so much to be desired.” The release added that “This, in the view of SLAJ, is a violation of the country’s Constitution by the highest court in the land.”
The release went on to quote Section 120/16 of Act No 6 of the 1991 constitution which states that “Every Court established under this Constitution shall deliver its decision in writing not later than three months after the conclusion of the evidence and final addresses or arguments of appeal, and furnish all parties to the cause or matter determined with duly authenticated copies of the decision on the date of the delivery thereof”.
Describing the action as an “apparent stifling of justice by the Supreme Court,” the release noted that “SLAJ and all others who stand for justice and that inalienable Constitutional right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the country’s sacred document, feel stabbed in the back and neck.”
Thereafter the release maintained that “Since the association cannot take the Supreme Court to any other court, SLAJ wishes to call on President Ernest Bai Koroma to act in this blatant show of unconstitutionality and make real his campaign promise to repeal this obnoxious law which is so open to abuse that its need is anachronistic.”
The release went on to remind the current Minister of Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo that “we were in this struggle together before his current appointment and that it behoves him to stay in it regardless of his status change,” whilst also soliciting the intervention of all friends of Sierra Leone, especially the British government who has been funding the reform of the justice sector.