Posted by / Saturday 24 December 2016 / No comments

How does Sierra Leone Practice Rule of Law?

Definition of rule of Law
Rule of law has two definitions, the classical meaning as proposed by A. V. Dicey and the modern definition by the New Delhi declaration in 1959 at a meeting of the International Commission of Jurists.

According to A. V. Dicey, in his classical opinion, Rule of Law means the law is supreme. In other words, the law is the highest authority of the land in the absence of which nothing else can prevail. For example, the law does not reside in the bosom of anybody.

The contemporary definition, as developed by the International Commission of Jurists states that Rule of Law is the conditions, structures, institutions, processes and procedures that must exist so that the individual can enjoy his life in dignity, security and prosperity.

Constitutional restrictions in Sierra Leone
The 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone empowers the Ombudsman to look into the excesses of public officers. It could investigate government departments and officials and make recommendation for action. Where the rights of citizens are violated by the government officials, they can seek redress from the Ombudsman. The constitution has also made provision for the citizens to initiate proceedings against the executive if it acts above its powers. In practice, the desire to take on the government is very low due to the long period of tyrannical rule.

Independence of the judiciary
Act No. 6 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone makes provision for an independent judiciary. Section 120 of the constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary. However, the president of Sierra Leone has a great influence over who become the Chief Justice and other senior members of the judiciary, for example. The Chief Justice is appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission and the approval of parliament. In reality, the president is able to get appointed people who are in his camp, so to speak.

Periodic elections
In Sierra Leone, elections are held every four years to renew the mandate of a government or to remove a government from power. The freedom to choose who rules over one’s country is a requirement of Rule of Law and Sierra Leone has kept faith with this requirement by ensuring that elections are held periodically.

Fundamental Human Rights
The constitution of Sierra Leone has outlined several rights that the citizens of the land must enjoy. Some of these rights include the right to life, the right to own property, the right to fair trial in the law court and many others. The evidence of the opportunity to enjoy these rights shows that Nigeria is indeed practicing Rule of Law. However, the death sentence is still maintained and people continue to be sentenced to death.

Press freedom in Sierra Leone
The 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone guarantees press freedom for Sierra Leoneans. Many of the newspapers here are privately owned. By 2008, there were 15 daily newspapers. The radio is the most popular source of information. Internet penetration is very low. Though the constitution allows for a free press, in practice, the government has a grip on the press. Sometimes, these rights to free press are restricted. Some subject areas are taboo for the journalists.

1. a. Explain the concept of Rule of Law.
    b. Highlight five ways in which rule of Law works in Sierra Leone.

2. Advance five reasons why one can say that Sierra Leone practices Rule of Law.

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