Africa-Press – Sierra-Leone. United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, yesterday visited the country’s Chief Justice, Desmond Babatunde Edwards at the Law Courts Buildings in Freetown, where he assured the Chief Justice of his determination to strengthen cooperation with the judiciary to help bring vital reforms.
The US Ambassador said that his visit is part of his familiarization tour to key decision makers in Sierra Leone to foster goodwill and solidarity.
“We have a good history of cooperation between the two countries through the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US/INL) program,” he said, noting that he has received reports of remarkable progress made in the justice sector.
“Before I came here, I spoke with representatives from INL in Washington and they were pleased with the program and the progress that’s being made and certainly, we would want to continue, if not that particular program, but another program.”
He said that the US government is open to helping Sierra Leone’s judiciary address its priority needs.
The US/INL program is a US funded project, implemented by other partners such as the UNDP to primarily support the “From Prisons to Correctional Project,” improving the institutional capacity of correctional facilities in accordance with International Human Rights standards; strengthening the capabilities of correctional staff to improve inmates and staff welfare and to ensure rehabilitation mechanisms for suitable reintegration of inmates in society, among others.
Receiving the US Ambassador, the Chief Justice stated that the Judiciary’s top areas of priority range from improving access to justice and enhancing expeditious trials.
He said the Judiciary has established the first Sexual Offences Model Court with huge success stories, noting that plans are under way to replicate similar successes in other parts of the country with more external support.
“The President has waged war on rape and other sexual offences, and we should be improving our investigators as well as the Medical Doctors because they provide the evidence that come to court for the successful prosecution of cases,” the Chief Justice said.
While commending the US government for supporting the justice sector in reforming the Criminal Procedure Act, providing training for judicial as well as Law Officers and the INL program, the Chief Justice said they will welcome any support from the US government.
The visit was concluded with the US Ambassador receiving copy of the Judiciary’s maiden magazine and inspection of the Sexual offences model Court as well as other facilities at the main Law Courts Building.