By Victor Ajihromanus
The African Bar Association, AFBA, has faulted what it described as assault on independence of the bar in Siera Leone through the arrest of a lawyer who criticised a court judgement.
In a statement by its President, Hannibal Uwaifo, AFBA, said to order the arrest of a legal practitioner and barring him from practising his profession for criticising a court judgement was wrong.
The statement reads:”The African Bar Association 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 criticising the Judgement of the Court in a matter of general concern to the Bar and Bench.
“We believe that that this order is an assault not only on the Legal Profession, the Freedom of the press but an attempt by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone to muzzle the Constitutional and Universal Freedom of Expression. Lawyers everywhere are trained to be fearless, critically analytical and defenders of the rule of law and 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 its obligation to defend and be accountable to the dictates of the Rule of Law and the independence of the Judiciary.
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“To order the arrest of a Legal Practitioner and barring him from practising his Profession for criticising a Court’s judgement, the respected Learned Justices have made mockery of the awesome judicial Powers of the Court that has become an accuser, a prosecutor and a Judge in its own cause 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Bar Association wishes to state categorically that the assault on Mr Augustine Marrah is unacceptable and should be withdrawn forthwith.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 Leone Bar Association to see that this assault on the independence of the Bar does not stand. ”
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