After the end of a devastating civil war which began in 1991, the task of rebuilding an effective judiciary in Sierra Leone started with a focus on its geographic extension.
The government’s National Recovery Strategy 2002-2003, introduced in October 2002, identifies the strengthening of the judiciary as a key challenge to lasting peace. Despite some progress, the justice system is not yet fully working in the rural areas where the population still lacks access to the courts and legal counsel, and where their basic rights are ignored.
Judges, prosecutors and lawyers are often ill-trained and lack resources, and judicial and official corruption remain of concern. Existing courts are overburdened, and the increasing caseload leads to prolonged pre-trial detentions contrary to international standards.
Considerable progress has been made towards accountability for the human rights violations committed during the civil war: the UN-sponsored Special Court and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission became operational at the end of 2002. Their efforts continue to be threatened by scarce resources. In its 5 October 2004 report, the TRC expressed concern over the lack of independence of the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice under the current regime.
Sierra Leone-Attacks on Justice 2005-Publications-2008 (full text, PDF)Attacks on Justice 2005Publications