Chief Justice Launches SierraLii Website
The Honourable Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm, on Thursday officially launched and popularised the Sierra Leone Legal Information Institute (SierraLii) website at Bank Complex at Kingtom in Freetown.
SierraLii is a non-profit organisation registered in Sierra Leone that aims to contribute to the continuing national progress by providing free access to the nation’s legal information network. It was established as a legacy project of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in 2010.
The Chief Justice, in his opening remarks, maintained that he was delighted to be part of the launching of such an important event, noting that one can access both primary and secondary information regarding legal issues from the website.
He pointed out that SierraLii is having over two thousand documents comprising of judgement and other key legal information, adding that with SierraLii “people can now access legal Information”.
Justice Charm also said this website will enhance ruling, noting that whatever ruling Judges or magistrates might give will be accessed by the public. He also said that SierraLii has solved the problem of poor law students who do not have the opportunity to purchase expensive legal books, and also express his disappointment regarding the poor turnout of such an important programme.
The Chairperson of the launching who also happened to be the Board Chairperson, Mrs Bernadette Cole, said SierraLii has joined other Liis in Africa and the world at large to officially establish a mechanism that will make it possible for everyone to read and understand the laws that govern them without cost.
She maintained that “the purpose of the project was to provide free, unrestricted and unfitted access to the primary and secondary legal materials of Sierra Leone by uploading them on a dedicated website on the internet”.
She concluded by thanking Open Society Foundation, Africanlii, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)for their unflinching support to SierraLii.
Representative from NAMATI, Sokita Conteh, in his statement, said access to information is no longer a privilege but a right, adding that legal empowerment starts with access to information. He added that information is a power and power belongs to the people.
He furthered that people must be given the opportunity to have access to information and must see SierraLii as “a fundamental resource for Judges, Students and Practitioners.
Representative from OSIWA, Joe Pemagbi, said he is very happy to be part of such brilliant initiative, noting that support for such project will increase access to justice in Sierra Leone.
Representing the Clerk of Parliament, Dr Abdul K Bawah, maintained that parliament has been providing hard copy of legislation passed since 1960, adding that the operation of parliament will go a long way, pointing out that information is power.
Pertinent statements were also made by representative from the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone while the launching was climaxed by demonstration of entries on SierraLii website WWW.Sierralii.org by Ms Martina Egbenda