By Sahr O Fasuluku….
Let’s hope the judiciary will be truly independent and hear this case from the perspective of the protection of the rights and liberties of people and communities. Not from the perspective of protection of executive power. We are hearing from the judicial branch of our democracy, this is a good thing.
It shows our civil and moral consciousness are growing. We can all remember times when no lawyer would dare to prepare, let alone arrive at court to submit, such a petition. Those were dark times.
The Sierra Leone Bar have shown bravery. What is more, they may also share a belief in Sierra Leoneans’ vision for our country; a place where the law protects all, even the smallest. Especially the smallest. A place where people can go about their lives without fear. The fear of oppression, violence, arbitrary incarceration, or the fear that their rights and liberties will without any shadow of a doubt be denied. It is a reckless thing to leave people without recourse to justice.
It now remains to be seen whether our Courts have finally matured, whether they recognise their own power and their part to play in the growth of the nation, and whether they have grown the will to join the people they are sworn to protect and shrug off their reputation for allowing injustices to continue indefinitely, supporting the powerful against the weak, ‘the government of the day’, and the rich against the poor.
After receiving this picture on wattsapp (see attached) it turned my mind towards Parliament and how much I looked forward to hearing from our elected representatives. These Members of Parliament who were elected by their own local people and local communities to live among them and engage with civil society, and while living among them to familiarise themselves with the needs of these local communities. Elected to then travel regularly to our nation’s capital to deliver their peoples’ messages to Parliament (not forgetting of course to come back home and live). Elected to vigilantly fight for their peoples local interests and put them above the interests of multinational corporations, international lobbyists and ‘the government of the day’. Elected to protect local livelihoods, environments, communities and families. Elected to scrutinise carefully and revoke, rather than make, unjust laws that take away from local communities the land and resources underneath their own feet, or laws and practises that remove our regional communities’ livelihoods and ability to sustainably develop. Elected to oversee, scrutinise and regularly and vigilantly enforce international resource contracts. Elected to be conscious of the value of our resources when deciding their price and ensure strong community-centred clauses and environmental protection are at the heart of every agreement. Elected to show confidence and never, from misguided desperation or promises of favours, allow large companies to irreversibly degrade and pollute our lands and waters or the quality of life of our people who live there.
And Parliament, as a sovereign body that is both master of and subject to our constitution, where the constitution is lacking and biased towards the powerful against local communities, was elected to reform the constitution and make it people and community-centred, make it protect the weak against the strong, promote the richness of ethnic and religious diversity and respect for each others differences, ensure it protects our environment, natural resources and ancestral homes, make it impose on all of us a duty to provide an unoppressive sustainable resilient future for this and future generations. And elected to remember Parliament’s status is not subservient to the executive arm of government. If Parliament does these things and enforces all of this with the sovereign authority that it was given by the people, it will earn back its lost moral authority.