The Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme (SLCMP)

Welcome About SLCMP

ABOUT SLCMP            2005

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PROGRAMME DIRECTOR'S WELCOME MESSAGE

Welcome to the official website of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme (SLCMP). We are an independent monitoring programme comprising human rights and civil society activists committed to promoting judicial accountability in Sierra Leone. We do so by monitoring the Special Court for Sierra Leone and our national institutions, starting with the National courts in Freetown. We hope soon to expand further to monitor the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

The Special Court is an international tribunal of mixed jurisdiction and composition established pursuant to an Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. It is mandated to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996. Since trials began in June 2004, the SLCMP has been monitoring proceedings and doing independent reporting to the public both within Sierra Leone and among the international community.

One of the root causes of the war in Sierra Leone was the fallen status of the judiciary, which had lost much of its once distinguished reputation at the hands of political manipulation. Subsequently, and in consequence, the Sierra Leone national court system was one of the institutions that suffered the most from the decade long conflict in Sierra Leone. With the consolidation of the peace, reforming the judiciary and upholding the rule of law thus essential. Now that the judiciary is being reformed, we hope to not only enhance civil society monitoring of the judiciary so as to ensure judicial accountability, but also to provide positive support for the challenging work of court officials. We hope that this will contribute significantly towards inhibiting the recurrence of war in this country.

The Anti Corruption Commission was established by the Government of Sierra Leone in the aftermath of the war, to investigate alleged corruption which has continued to plague the country. While the Commission is charged with the responsibility of monitoring all institutions in the country with the aim of preventing corruption, the question which remains to be answered is “who will watch the watchman”? This is why we think it is necessary to monitor the ACC and report on its activities to the people of Sierra Leone.

This website shall be providing regular updates on issues arising from the work of the above institutions with a view to making such institutions accountable to the people, ensuring civil society participation and proffering constructive recommendations to enhance their progress. While we do this, we are aware that our objectives cannot be achieved in isolation. We anticipate cooperation from all those committed to the development of Sierra Leone. As you go through this website, we shall be pleased to get feed back from you on the work we are doing and we encourage your contributions at all times.

On behalf of the SLCMP, I welcome you to our official website and wish that you enjoy the benefit of the information and analysis we have provided and will continue to provide.

Mohamed Suma,

Programme Director.About SLCMP

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Profile of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme 

The Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme (SLCMP), formerly known as the Special Court Monitoring Program, is a new independent initiative through which Sierra Leonean lawyers and civil society activists from a variety of backgrounds seek to combine their efforts to monitor criminal trials.

 

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Profile of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme

The Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme (SLCMP), formerly known as the Special Court Monitoring Program, is a new independent initiative through which Sierra Leonean lawyers and civil society activists from a variety of backgrounds seek to combine their efforts to monitor criminal trials.

The project has been assisted in its start-up phase by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and work closely with the Coalition for Justice and Accountability. The monitors are assisted in their work by a Programme Director who coordinates all activities relating to the programme.

With the experience gained by monitoring the trials at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the SLCMP will be monitoring domestic institutions in the course of 2005. Monitors are assigned to all criminal proceedings including the juvenile courts, magistrate courts, and the High Court.

The programme will also monitor governmental institutions, starting with the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)

 

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The Aims and Objectives of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme

The aim of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme is to promote judicial accountability in Sierra Leone by monitoring criminal proceedings at the Special Court for Sierra Leone as well as domestic institutions such as the national court system and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The SLCMP will seek to monitor proceedings on at least five levels:

  • the general conduct of proceedings, including access to the courtroom and documentation;
  • basic procedural propriety;
  • substantive legal issues and decisions;
  • issues such as strategy, process, and judicial economy; and
  • public outreach and information.

The current objectives of the Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme are to:

  • provide the public, both Sierra Leonean and the international community, with an independent and fair assessment of the activity of the Special Court, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the domestic courts, thereby contributing to the public discourse;
  • to strengthen and improve the operations of the Special Court, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the domestic legal system;
  • facilitate the regular presence of civil society representatives at the proceedings for this purpose, and to allow for them to produce critical oral and written commentary, thereby enhancing the capacity of civil society to do effective monitoring.

 

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The Importance of Court Monitoring by the SLCMP

The SLCMP believes that it is crucial to provide feedback on the work of the Special Court that will enhance its capabilities, maximize the impact of its work on local communities and civil society in Sierra Leone, and raise public awareness of its mission and accomplishments.

This project seeks to contribute to this process by monitoring trials and providing ongoing evaluation of witness and outreach programmes. Such public discourse will enable the Court’s political, legal, and sociological importance to be widely recognized and its decisions properly digested by the public in the various stages of its work.

The SLCMP will transfer the important lessons learnt from observing the Special Court, a busy and active criminal court, to domestic criminal courts and institutions. The absence of rule of law, which was one of the root causes of the decade long war in Sierra Leone, continues to plague the country. Corruption continues unabated and prolonged and unfair trials which do not respect basic fairness are common.

The proper administration of juvenile justice, the duty to uphold the rights of the accused, and the adherence to human rights standards are all exceptions rather than the rule.

If the horrors of the past are to be prevented in the future, promoting a sound justice system should be a priority in the country’s post-conflict efforts. Enhancing civil society’s means to do independent reporting of the work of domestic institutions will be an important element of this.

SLCMP.org