Sunday, 1 November 2020

African Bar Association (AfBA) Condemns Sierra Leonean Supreme Court`s Order for the Arrest of a Lawyer For Allegedly Criticizing A Judgment of the Court, Vows To Ensure the Rule of Law Prevails



Hannibal Uwaifo, P
resident,  African Bar Association

The African Bar Association (AfBA) is deeply saddened and disturbed by the Order of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone said to have been issued on October 28, 2020 for the arrest of Lawyer Augustine Marrah, for allegedly criticizing the Judgement of the Court in a matter of general concern to the Bar and Bench. 


We believe that that this order is, not only an assault on the Legal Profession and the Freedom of the Press, but also an attempt by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone to muzzle the Constitutional and Universal Right to Freedom of Expression. Lawyers everywhere are trained to be fearless, critically analytical and defenders of the rule of law and the independence of the Legal Profession.


The African Bar Association believes that the duty of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone as a bastion of the constitutional defence of Sovereignity and the Rule of Law should be well guided, not to ponder to the whims and caprices of political gladiators, but by the Court`s obligation to defend, and be accountable to, the dictates of the Rule of Law and the independence of the Judiciary. In ordering the arrest of a Legal Practitioner and barring him from practising his Profession merely for criticising a Court's judgement, the respected Learned Justices have made mockery of the awesome judicial Powers of the Court; they have themselves the accusers, the prosecutors and the Judges in their own cause, and thereby desecrating the sacred principles of Nemo Judex in Causa Sua and Audi Alteram Partem. 


While the African Bar Association concedes that the Learned Justices have a right to feel uncomfortable about any criticism, their actions must be guided by the Constitution and the Rule of Law. The African Bar Association wishes to state categorically that the assault on Mr Augustine Marrah is unacceptable and should be withdrawn forthwith. 


We shall be working with the Leadership of the Sierra Leonean Bar Association to see that this assault on the independence of the Bar does not stand. 


Dated the 1st Day of November 2020


Hannibal Uwaifo

President,  African Bar Association


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