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The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Save the Children Sierra Leone is reported to have been engaging some Members of Parliament and Traditional Leaders on how to tackle early marriage after it has been realized in Sierra Leone and across the African continent that teenage pregnancy isone of the serious problems affecting the development of young girls.

Nonetheless, I want to completely disagree with the statement of the Chairperson of the Gender and Children’s Affairs Committee in Parliament, Hon. Catherine Zainab Tarawally that “90% of girls in secondary school have given birth because of poor parental care,” as reported in the Monday 23rd May, 2022 edition of Awoko newspaper. Such erroneous assumption is unacceptable and untenable given the enormous progress being made by Sierra Leone in the education of girls.
My question to Hon. Catherine Zainab Tarawally is that if 90% of girls in secondary school have given birth because of poor parental care, why do we currently have more girls than boys in basic education? Or is she insinuating that 90% of the parents of school girls do not take better care of their children that often results to them giving birth in school?

In other words, Hon. Catherine Z. Tarawally is assuming that only 10% of girls in secondary school have not given birth because of good parental care. This is an erroneous assumption because since the Bio administration introduced the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) in 2019 as its flagship programme, enormous progress is being made by Sierra Leone in the field of education and the education of girls. For example, at the begging of the 2021/22 school year, the Minister of Basic and Senior School Education, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh stated emphatically that more girls are now enrolled than boys in basic education. This was recently amplified by the Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, who represented His Excellency President Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio at a recent international conference in Freetown, when he spoke highly about the enormous progress being made by Sierra Leone in the field of education and the education of girls.

The conference attracted participants from several countries around the world and its main theme was ‘gender equality through education’, hence one of the reasons Sierra Leone was chosen as host. Vice President Juldeh Jalloh disclosed at the conference that Sierra Leone has employed 8,000 more female teachers with more girls than boys in basic education. While such progress is being made under the New Generation Government, Hon. Catherine Tarawally is giving the world the wrong impression that 90% of secondary school girls have given birth because of poor parental care. For goodness sake, how come did this Honourable Member of Parliament arrive at such unbelievable percentage of girls giving birth in school? If that is the case, then our school girls would be procreating tens of thousands of children per every school year which is very impossible.

Verily, our Honourable Members of Parliament deserve serious respect as our representatives in that august body. As our representatives, we do rely on them for vital information about governance and the State. We don’t expect them to misinform us about what we are supposed to know and disseminate to the public; instead, we expect them to do thorough research on national issues they want to address through debates, discussions, discourse, seminars and other engagements so that the people would be well informed on them. But cooking up figures like what Hon. Catherine Tarawally did will give the impression that some of our lawmakers do not do research on what they actually want to tell the public. I will therefore advise that anytime Hon. Catherine Tarawally wants to address any pertinent issue of national interest, she must ensure that she is well informed on that issue through research before she addresses it.

Sierra Leone has reported its first anthrax outbreak in 28 years. More than 200 livestock have died in the Northwest Region since the Ministries of Health and Agriculture officially announced the outbreak.


Given the unruly behavior put by APC supporters that barricaded themselves into their party headquarters building at Old Railway Line on Friday May 31st from where they threw stones and bottles at OSD personnel, the signs are very clear that APC wants another bloody civil war in this country simply because the majority of the people voted against them in the 2018 presidential elections in favor of SLPP’s Julius Maada Bio.

By Charlie J. Hughes

When Sierra Leoneans go the polls in June 2023 it will be the country’s fifth routine multiparty elections since 2002. Sierra Leone has achieved a great feat that would be the envy of most countries on the continent. While arguments can always be made about the quality of governance in any country, Sierra Leoneans still put their trust in multiparty politics (see Afrobarometer survey). Sierra Leoneans’ trust in multiparty politics however, should not disguise our unease with certain failures of electoral politics over the years. While every election since 2002 has been declared free and fair, they have been accompanied by circumstances of uncivil politics, mobilization of hate constituencies, and sporadic violence.

The upcoming 2023 general elections should provide us an opportunity to re-set electoral politics; with a fundamental purpose to minimise the utility of rancor, hate, and violence.

The opportunity for re-set of electoral politics lies in the parliamentary representation system that we opt for in 2023. All over the world countries do electoral engineering from time to time to respond to changed or emerging contexts. After four multiparty general elections in Sierra Leone, the evidence is abundant that single-member constituency representation is fraught with discomforts at several levels.

While other issues including high levels of illiteracy and poverty remain at play, it is also a fact that the challenges of uncivil politics in Sierra Leone are significantly hinged on thesingle-member constituency system. First, single-member constituency is immanently prone to the utility of rancor, divisivenessand hate constituencies.

In contradistinction to single-member constituency system, multi-member representation systems including Proportional Representation, dissuades rancor significantly in one critical way. The fact that everybody will be represented under their preferred party means there is no question of winning at all cost for anybody; a key driver of violence,rancor and divisiveness. Everybody wins irrespective of any imbalance in the proportion of representation of the different
parties.

Single-member constituency representation often warrants expensive campaigns by contestants.Some would cynically suggest that money does not guarantee success at the polls for those seeking parliamentary seats.

While this may be true, the abundance of experience points to the fact that a vast majority of candidates decry the cost of their elections campaigns. Proportional Representation does not bring huge campaign costs to bear on individual candidates. The high costs of single-member constituency elections also extend to the state. Take the case where at least a dozen bye-elections have been held in Sierra Leone since 2018; and the associated costs that the Electoral Commission and Law Enforcement agencies have borne. It runs into billions of Leones. An appropriately devised Proportional Representation system dispenses withbye-elections and the associated costs.

Single-member constituency representation is grossly inefficient in broadening representation across a constituency.Around the world representation democracy has been a default resort in the circumstances today where it is impossible to have every adult man and woman sit at the table to discuss public interest matters. The aspiration however, remains that as far as possible every citizen gets represented at the table where public interest matters are discussed.

Single-member constituency representation has serious limitations in broadening representationin this regard. Take the case where in a straight two-party contest,one person wins 51% of the votes and takes the parliamentary seat; leaving 49% unrepresented under their preferred party. A Proportional Representation system would ensure that both the ‘small majority’ and the ‘huge minority’ are represented in Parliament.

In the circumstances of other binding constraints, the single-member constituency representation is grossly inefficient in promoting women’s representation in Parliament. For instance, although the policy frameworks now exist for promoting women’s presence in elective office in the country, the single-member constituency system is going to remain unhelpful. Proportional representation on the other hand can easily accommodate our aspirations for increased representation of women in Parliament.

I am not oblivious of the difficulty of promoting consensus uptake of country-serving policy solutions in Sierra Leone today. While the ruling party has shown little interest in seeking or co-creating prior-legitimation of political decisions, the opposition has recklessly reduced its role to making sure that nothing works. Sadly, even civil society organisations, some intellectuals, and many ordinary citizensare now willfully stalled in this binary. It should be pointed out however, that any political stance won by the ruling government or opposition parties on the strength of disruption, force and disregard for prior-secured legitimacy is temporal and a recipe for discontent. Where the country chooses to go with Proportional Representation the first win for all Sierra Leoneans will be the annulment of the rancorand rudeness that await us around constituency boundaries delineation for the 2023 elections.


“Since the Commission of Inquiry is an administrative body and not a judicial or quasi-judicial tribunal, it is not bound by the rules of evidence. It is not trying any cause between contesting parties and its proceedings are not as formal as in a judicial inquiry” - From: Academike - Lawctopus.

The Government hopes that the three Commissions of Inquiry will help to change Sierra Leone’s political and development narratives from non-accountability by persons entrusted with public offices and corruption which has held back the country’s growth out of poverty since the 1970s.
Commissions are often confused with courts of law. This isn’t surprising given that they seem to function like courts. For example, they’re often chaired by judges, affected parties are often represented by lawyers and witnesses take oaths to tell the truth. But they aren’t courts. And it’s important to understand the difference between the two when it comes to their functions, powers, and procedures.

The differences
A court judgment is binding and has direct legal effect on the parties involved. The court will determine that the accused goes to prison, for example, or that the defendant pays damages. The only way affected parties can escape the court order is by getting it overturned on appeal or review by a higher court. Commissions of inquiry, on the other hand, make non-binding recommendations to the person who set them up - In the case of the three commissions, President Bio.

Technically, all commissions do is offer the person who set them up advice. And they’re required to stick to the issues on which advice was requested. These are set out in the terms of reference which establish what questions the commission must answer, who will head it up and what its powers are. Commissions of inquiry are completely different from courts when it comes to procedures too. Courts are adversarial. The judge sits as an outside observer while the two teams before her attempt to establish their version of events.

Commissions of inquiry, on the other hand, are inquisitorial. This makes the commission the driver of the investigation itself. It seeks out the facts rather than waiting for two opposing parties to choose and present their evidence. In an inquisitorial process, the witnesses and their lawyers are merely assisting the commission’s investigation.

An important consequence of the inquisitorial process is that a commission is not bound by the same rules of evidence as in a court. Thus evidence will never be “inadmissible”, as the commission enjoys discretion to consider all evidence that it finds relevant to its inquiry.
Why the confusion?
With these important distinctions in mind, why have some commissions become “judicialised” and lawyer-driven? Why was the first day of the Commission taken up with technicalities? Why have postponements been built into the process so that “implicated parties” can study the allegations made against them?
It’s not just to stave off the threat of a court challenge to any findings. Such a threat is, in fact, not much of a threat at all. Commissions of inquiry will not be subject to the (higher) standards of so-called “administrative” review unless their findings have a direct effect on the persons who might want to challenge them. But the direct effect would arise only when the president acts on the findings.
The president wouldn’t be subject to administrative review in many of these cases either. Instead, the president and the commission will be subject to review for “rationality”. A rationality review asks only whether there is a rational connection between the conduct challenged before the court and a legitimate governmental objective.
Commissions have another, equally crucial function – to educate the public and ensuring its buy-in for important processes of change and renewal.
“Since the Commission of Inquiry is an administrative body and not a judicial or quasi-judicial tribunal, it is not bound by the rules of evidence. It is not trying any cause between contesting parties and its proceedings are not as formal as in a judicial inquiry” - From: Academike - Lawctopus
The Government hopes that the three Commissions of Inquiry will help to change Sierra Leone’s political and development narratives from non-accountability by persons entrusted with public offices and corruption which has held back the country’s growth out of poverty since the 1970s.
Commissions are often confused with courts of law. This isn’t surprising given that they seem to function like courts. For example, they’re often chaired by judges, affected parties are often represented by lawyers and witnesses take oaths to tell the truth. But they aren’t courts. And it’s important to understand the difference between the two when it comes to their functions, powers, and procedures.
The differences

A court judgment is binding and has direct legal effect on the parties involved. The court will determine that the accused goes to prison, for example, or that the defendant pays damages. The only way affected parties can escape the court order is by getting it overturned on appeal or review by a higher court. Commissions of inquiry, on the other hand, make non-binding recommendations to the person who set them up - In the case of the three commissions, President Bio.

Technically, all commissions do is offer the person who set them up advice. And they’re required to stick to the issues on which advice was requested. These are set out in the terms of reference which establish what questions the commission must answer, who will head it up and what its powers are. Commissions of inquiry are completely different from courts when it comes to procedures too. Courts are adversarial. The judge sits as an outside observer while the two teams before her attempt to establish their version of events.

Commissions of inquiry, on the other hand, are inquisitorial. This makes the commission the driver of the investigation itself. It seeks out the facts rather than waiting for two opposing parties to choose and present their evidence. In an inquisitorial process, the witnesses and their lawyers are merely assisting the commission’s investigation.

An important consequence of the inquisitorial process is that a commission is not bound by the same rules of evidence as in a court. Thus evidence will never be “inadmissible”, as the commission enjoys discretion to consider all evidence that it finds relevant to its inquiry.
Why the confusion?

With these important distinctions in mind, why have some commissions become “judicialised” and lawyer-driven? Why was the first day of the Commission taken up with technicalities? Why have postponements been built into the process so that “implicated parties” can study the allegations made against them?
It’s not just to stave off the threat of a court challenge to any findings. Such a threat is, in fact, not much of a threat at all. Commissions of inquiry will not be subject to the (higher) standards of so-called “administrative” review unless their findings have a direct effect on the persons who might want to challenge them. But the direct effect would arise only when the president acts on the findings.

The president wouldn’t be subject to administrative review in many of these cases either. Instead, the president and the commission will be subject to review for “rationality”. A rationality review asks only whether there is a rational connection between the conduct challenged before the court and a legitimate governmental objective.
Commissions have another, equally crucial function – to educate the public and ensuring its buy-in for important processes of change and renewal.


Under the dynamic astute leadership of President Bio and his no-nonsense Anti Corruption Commission commissioner, Sierra Leone is breaking records in the fight against corruption which the president and on assuming office in April 2018 described as single most destructive enemy of economic growth and development in the country.


Tackling corruption and instilling a culture of good governance in both the public and private sectors is the most important development challenge that Sierra Leone has faced since the 1970s.


The attitude of Sierra Leoneans generally to wish bad to happen to others made a disgusted late president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as he was fighting tooth and nail to make peace with Foday Sankoh’s RUF rebels, whilst some in his government sought behind his back to derail the process made him remark that “Salone man get bad hart”.


Like the VP Samuel Sam Sumana saga that evidently split the Sierra Leone Bar Association, the advent of the Commissions of Inquiry has further deepened the break up, following the emergence of a minority splinter group known as “Concerned Members”.