By Melvin Tejan Mansaray
The erstwhile Vice President and former Attorney General, Solomon Ekuma Berewa Esq., has registered his appreciation over moves by the Sierra Leone Parliament and its partners to hold a Pre-Enactment Dialogue of the Criminal Procedure Bill at the new building of Parliament yesterday 30th September 2015).
Mr.Berewa was described as a champion for the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) and made salient contributions at the deliberation which featured Members of Parliament (MPs), Legislative Committee, Law Officers Department, civil society organizations (CSOs) and members of the Press.
Speaking exclusively to THE TRUMPET at Parliament building, Solo B (as he is fondly called) said: “I am impressed with the procedure and method adopted for the discussion and popularization of the Bill before it goes to Parliament fully. I am very impressed with them.”
He said the significance of such deliberations and dialogue cannot be underestimated for the fact that: “The criminal justice system is the bedrock of criminal law and without it, I should not have taken the time to come.”
He added that he will be following up and making himself available to make the process a success for the benefit of the nation.
Cyril King, Chairman Legislative Committee in Parliament said the dialogue is prior to subsequent legislative committee sitting to look at firsthand issues and concerns as expressed by representatives before the Bill could be enacted into law.
Alieu Vandi Esq., Law Officers Department gave a detailed presentation on the proposed Bill and cited some of the benefits that will be derived from it, adding that, 50 years on a lot has changed and therefore makes it imperative for amendment.
Sulaiman Bah, Director of Public Prosecution highlighted that the dialogue is necessary but lamented problems of lack of resources and personnel affecting the Judiciary and Law Officers Department.
He urged MPs to engage the President and Minister of Finance on the need for allocation of more resources that could help in overcoming the existential problems of delay in dispensing justice; lack of provincial and regional magistrates among a host of other problems
Meanwhile, MPs and representatives of CSOs across the four regions of the country made relevant contributions on wide ranging issues including MB Kamara, Head of Legal and Justice Department of Sierra Leone Police, who dismissed claims by this press of political interference and the position of free bail.
The dialogue is expected to continue in a Pre- Legislative hearing wherein the MPs will have enough time to grill the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed legislation.