Comparative law and justice/Sierra Leone

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Basic Information

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Brief History

Geography Sierra Leone, on the Atlantic Ocean in West Africa, is half the size of Illinois. Guinea, in the north and east, and Liberia, in the south, are its neighbors. Mangrove swamps lie along the coast, with wooded hills and a plateau in the interior. The eastern region is mountainous.

A group named Bulmon were thought to have been the earliest living natives of Sierra Leone. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the land and gave Sierra Leone its name, which means “lion mountains.” Freetown, on the coast, was ceded to English settlers in 1787 as a home for blacks discharged from the British armed forces and also for slaves to hide and make easier to runaway. In 1808 the coastal area became a British colony.

This then lead to Sierra Leone becoming an independent nation on April 27, 1961. A military coup overthrew the civilian government in 1967, which was in turn replaced by civilian rule a year later. The country declared itself a republic on April 19, 1971.

Work Cited: Pearson , . "Sierra Leone ." Sierra Leone 2000-2009: n. pag. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <>.

Economic Development, Health, and Education

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This country has a tropical climate type of weather, with a diverse environment. Including savannah’s in rainforest. The main city is Freetown, which also is the capital, the largest city and their economic center. English is Sierra Leone’s main language. It is spoken at schools, government administration and the media. However, the Krio Language which is a language derived from English and several African languages. It is native to the Sierra Leone Krio peoples. It also is the most widely spoken language in virtually all parts of the country. The Krio language is spoken by 97% of the country's population.

Population 6,017,643 (July 2005 est.); 5,732,681 (July 2003 est.); 5,232,624 (July 2000 est.)

Death rate

20.61 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)

note: refugees currently in surrounding countries are slowly returning

Maternal Mortality Ratio

2000 deaths/100 000 births (2000 est.). Sierra Leone's MMR is the worst of any country in the world, according to the 2000 WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA report.

Infant mortality rate total: 143.64 deaths/1,000 live births female: 161.06 deaths/1,000 live births male: 125.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.) total: 146.86 deaths/1,000 live births

Total fertility rate

5.72 children born/woman (2005 est.) 5.86 children born/woman (2003 est.) 6.08 children born/woman (2000 est.)


adult prevalence rate: 7% (2001 est.) people living with HIV/AIDS: 170,000 (2001 est.) deaths: 11,000 (2001 est.)


noun: Sierra Leonean(s) adjective: Sierra Leonean

Ethnic groups

20 native African tribes 90% (Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other 30%) Creole 10% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century) Refugees from Liberia's recent civil war Small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians Religions Muslim 46% indigenous beliefs 29% Christian 25%



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Constitutional democracy.


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Political System: Democracy President: Ernest Bai Koroma (APC) [since 17 September 2007; elected 2007] The President is elected by direct popular vote for a 5-year term. Electoral System: Two Round (Run-off). Note: A candidate must obtain at least 55% of the vote to avoid a second round. House of Representatives [unicameral] (124 Seats) 112 members are elected by direct popular vote in single-member constituencies using the first-past-the-post (simple majority) system; 12 are Paramount Chiefs are indirectly elected to represent each provincial district; members serve 5-year terms. Political Situation since Independence 1961-1967 Democracy 1967-1968 Military Regime 1968-1971 Emerging Democracy 1971-1978 Restricted Democratic Practice 1978-1991 One Party State (APC) 1991-1992 Multiparty Transition 1992-1996 Military Regime 1996-1997 Emerging Democracy 1997-1998 Military Regime 1998-2002 Emerging Democracy 2002- Democracy 2007 Freedom House Rating: Political Rights - 4, Civil Liberties - 3, Status: Partly Free Next Scheduled Presidential Election: 2012

Judicial Review

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(1)The Judicial power of Sierra Leone shall be vested in the Judiciary of which the Chief Justice shall be the Head.

(2) The Judiciary shall have jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal including matters relating to this Constitution, and such other matters in respect of which Parliament may by or under an Act of Parliament confer jurisdiction on the Judiciary.

(3) In the exercise of its judicial functions, the Judiciary shall be subject to only this Constitution or any other law, and shall not be subject to the control or direction of any other person or authority.

(4) The Judicature shall consist of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, the Court of Appeal and the High Court of Justice which shall be the superior courts of record of Sierra Leone and which shall constitute on Superior Court of Judicature, and such other inferior and traditional courts as Parliament may by law establish.

(5) The Superior Court of Judicature shall have the power to commit for contempt to themselves and all such powers as were vested in a court of record immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution.

(6) Save as may be otherwise ordered by a Court in the interests of public morality, public safety or public order, all proceedings of every Court, including the announcement of the decision of the court, shall be held in public.

(7) Nothing contained in subsection (6) shall prevent a court from excluding from its proceedings persons, other than the parties thereto and their counsel, to such an extent as the Court may consider necessary or expedient or in circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice or any interlocutory proceedings; or in the interests of defense, public safety, public morality, the welfare of minors or the protection of the private lives of persons concerned in the proceedings.

(8) In the exercise of the Judicial power conferred upon the Judiciary by this Constitution or any other law, the Superior Court of Judicature shall have power, in relation to any matter within its jurisdiction, to issue such orders as may be necessary to ensure the enforcement of any judgement, decree or order of the Court.

(9) A Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature shall not be liable to any action or suit for any matter or thing done by him in the performance of his judicial functions.

(10) The Judges of the High Court shall be entitled to sit as Justices of Appeal, and the Justices of Appeal shall be entitled to sit as Justices of the Supreme Court whenever so requested by the Chief Justice.

(11) Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding subsections, any Justice of Appeal may, on the request of the Chief Justice, sit and act as a Judge of the High Court.

(12) Every such person, while sitting and acting as a Judge of the High Court, shall have all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges of, but not otherwise be deemed to be, a Judge of the High Court.

(13). The provisions of subsections shall apply mutatis mutandis to a Justice of the Supreme Court sitting as a Justice of Appeal.

(14) Neither the Chief Justice nor any Justice of the Supreme Court or of the Court of Appeal or a Judge of the High Court may take any part in the hearing of any appeal from his own judgment or the judgment of a panel of judges of which he was a member.

(15) No office of Judge of the High Court, Justice of Appeal or Justice of the Supreme Court shall be abolished while there is a substantive holder thereof.

(16) Every court established under this Constitution shall deliver its decision in writing not later than three months after the conclusion of the evidence and final addresses or arguments of appeal, and furnish all parties to the cause or matter [determined] with duly authenticated copies of the decision on the date of the delivery thereof.

Courts and Criminal Law

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The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations. It is mandated to try those 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.

Currently, the three cases heard in Freetown have been completed, including appeals. The trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor is in the Defence phase at The Hague.


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Corporal punishment is seen in this part of Africa and others. It is literally the infliction of punishment on the body mostly on children.In Sierra Leone and in most other parts of Africa, battering is the most common form of corporal punishment. However, governments have found it more difficult to ban this form of punishment because Africans believe children should not be handled softly.

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Type: Republic with a democratically elected president and unicameral parliament. Independence: From Britain, April 27, 1961. Constitution: October 1, 1991. Political parties: The Political Parties Registration Commission was formed in late 2005 to review registered parties to see whether they still met registration requirements. Most of the parties are inactive. Major parties--Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), All People's Congress (APC), and People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC).

The Legal Personnels inscrips that they began organazations to assign Law Officers of the Department of the Ministry and Justice. They were to develop a group from their choice from the United Nations Programme (UNDP) and the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL),to organize the training of over 300 Local Court personnel in the Southern part of Sierra Leone and Eastern and Northern provinces of Sierra Leone.

Law Enforcement

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[] Penal system in Sierra Leone [] Sierra Leonean police officers [] Prisoners and detainees of Sierra Leone ( [] Prisons in Sierra Leone

Crime Rates and Public Opinion

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Murder rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants.

Latest rates.

Countries: Iraq 89 Honduras 57.9 Sierra Leone 50

Since 1991, the civil war between the Sierra Leone government and the Liberia- backed rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has crippled the country. Then in May of 2000 the crisis peaked as the RUF took 500 UN peacekeepers hostages.


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Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The government generally respects the human rights of their citizens. However, there were serious problems in a number of areas, including: security force abuse, including rape, and use of excessive force with detainees, including juveniles; police theft and extortion; poor conditions in prisons and jails; official impunity; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged detention, excessive bail, and insufficient legal representation; restrictions on freedom of speech and press, although fewer than in the previous year; government and chiefdom detention and harassment of journalists; harassment of opposition party supporters by ruling party members; widespread official corruption; societal discrimination and violence against women; female genital mutilation (FGM); child abuse; trafficking in persons, including children; forced labor, including by children; and no child labor laws.

Family Law

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In Sierra Leone Customary Family Law, marriage is polygamous with the woman in a subservient position with no legal access to her husband's inheritance. Such access can only be through the husband or on his demise by remarriage to his relatives or through the children if they are of age at the time of death. A woman cannot be divorced on the basis that the spouse is unfaithful or suffering from an STD. Terminal illness may provide a ready home and carers for AIDS' orphans and HIV/AIDS victims.

Family Law(s) Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Child Divorce Extramarital Relations Female Foster Home Care HIV Infections HIV Seropositivity Humans Incidence Legislation Male Marriage Sierra Leone Spouses Wills

Social Inequality

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In the African , gender inequality is worse than it used to be decades ago. Evidently, westernization may have brought many benefits but gender equality was not one of them.While men in many African countries are on the forefront of political and corporate leadership, women are on the forefront of community development and home leadership.

They have been a channel of economic empowerment, which has in turn given women much needed self-esteem. On the home front, many men have not been able to provide capable leadership mainly due to career demands and downright laziness or indifference. This has left the woman as the de facto decision maker in the home.

However, the woman’s economic handicaps greatly restrict this decision-making leaving the economically empowered man as the decision maker:This is similar to some anthropological tribes where the women have no say and in the early Greek civilization. The solution can be to gender inequality lies not in this kind of imposing. It starts off in the boardrooms and classrooms. they shouldnt lie and blame them for their mistakes. All these are recipes not of gender equality but for gender confusion.

The solution to gender inequality in Africa lies with the African woman. As she falls away from the mans imitation for originality in search of dependence for independence and ignorance for knowledge.Then women will finally begin to realize their full potential in Sierra Leone, as for most of the African countries.

Human Rights

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Not to recently the country of Sierra Leone declared an Investment in the health sector ,needed to implement free care policy. November 16 2009

Human rights observers reported that detention conditions frequently fell below minimum international standards because of overcrowding, lack of access to food, unhygienic conditions, and insufficient medical attention. Prison cells often lacked proper lighting, bedding, ventilation, and protection from mosquitoes. In August human rights observers reported that the Prison Department had been curtailing diets to inmates for several months. Twenty prisoner deaths occurred during the year, allegedly as a result of acute malnutrition, lack of hygienic conditions, malaria, and heart failure.

Prison Watch reported that there was a shortage of prison staff, and sometimes officers were not paid regularly. In Kono seven staff members were not paid for two months, and in Moyamba, an officer had not received his salary in three months. Consequently, guards provided only minimal security, and abuse of prisoners and prison breaks occurred. Prison Watch received reports that prison guards sold prisoner food rations to supplement their meager salaries.

Conditions in holding cells in police stations were poor, especially in small stations outside Freetown. Cells were dark with little ventilation. Men and women were held in separate cells; As for minors what we learned from class i over read that they are trying to prevent juveniles from being detained with adults, and 73 minors were imprisoned with adult offenders before in Pademba, Bo, Makeni, Kambia, Kenema, and Kailahun. Police sometimes would release juveniles suspected of committing crimes to avoid incarcerating them with adults.


As you can see Sierra Leone is not to sturdy and they need to create some kind of democracy or law to ensure minors wont be imprisoned with adults and to provide better food care and health for the prisoners they would need to clean up the facilities. Also paying the guards their riffle salaries will come have to come in to play if you want your security to be tight and less scandalous.

Amnesty International video (

Works Cited

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1) Pearson , . "Sierra Leone ." Sierra Leone 2000-2009: n. pag. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <>. 2)"Sierra Leone Facts ." National Geographic (2010): n. pag. Web. 29 Apr 2010. <>.`

3)"Special Court for Sierra Leone ." GPF 2005-2010 : n. pag. Web. 30 Apr 2010. <>.

4) Amnesty International video (