By KABS KANU :
DO SOME SIERRA LEONEANS KNOW ABOUT AN OFFENCE CALLED CONTEMPT OF COURT ?
When I read some posts where some Sierra Leoneans were making disparaging comments about the Supreme Court and the lord justices of the court , I shuddered because I wondered if they really knew that they could be held in contempt, which , depending on the jurisdiction , could mean jail time or a hefty fine.
Constitutionally, the Supreme Court has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all the courts in the land and is the final interpreter of criminal, civil and constitutional law. The buck stops with the Supreme Court .
It is an offence to impede the functionality of the court or to demean the credibility and respect of the court through defamatory comments and allegations . It is a criminal offence to try to impair and subvert the course of justice in legal proceedings by casting doubts on the respect, impartiality , fairness, integrity and credibility of the judges of the Supreme Court .
What I have read in the social media from some people about Justices Valesius Thomas , Nicholas Browne-Marke and other Supreme Court judges tantamount to attempts to subvert the course of justice. Even before they started hearing the Sam Sumana case, some people had already began to impute partiality , unfairness and bias to the justices . Some people even made outrageous claims about them being bribed . This is not done. It is contempt of Court and the perpetrators know it is something they should not be doing. They are not only trying to prejudice a legal proceeding but impugning the integrity of the Supreme Court. This is not a normal behavior in countries where people respect the Rule of Law and the constitution.
You will notice that however tough they seem to be talking now about the justness of their case, the Sam Sumana lawyers are not saying anything that would be undermining the impartiality, respect and credibility of the judges of the Supreme Court and once the Supreme Court renders its verdict on the issue, even outspoken lawyers like Blyden Jenkins-Johnston will not say “PHIN” in opposition. Not only do they know that they should not; they know they will be in contempt if they did. They would also be undermining their own commitment to respect for the law and the constitution.
Some lawless Sierra Leoneans in the social media are even talking about staging demonstrations after the verdict to take their case to the international community. That is real ignorant talk. Do they think that the international community would encourage them to disrespect the verdict of the Supreme Court , when it is entrenched in the moral codes and behavior of these nations that the Supreme Court , as the highest court in the land, is the final arbiter of legal cases and what they say is final and should be respected ? The U.S, UK, UN and other stakeholders would be first to tell these Sierra Leoneans to respect the decision of the Supreme Court. No moral guarantor or international stakeholder will indulge Sierra Leoneans in their lawlessness and disdain for the constitution.
Al Gore was a very powerful and rich man and his lawyers were equally very powerful men in the U.S. legal system and internationally but once the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favour of George Bush in 2000 , that was it. They had to respect the constitution of their country and preserve their own respect and also avoid jail time.
The very ordinary people do not respect the law and the constitution and yet they want to hold others accountable. That is sheer hypocrisy. Their comments and attacks on the judges of the Supreme Court show just how lawless they are and it is cowardice to hide behind their “unreachability” in the diaspora to flagrantly disrespect and impugn the highest court in the land.
The Supreme Court may not have the territorial jurisdiction to hold them in contempt but their disrespect for the justices is demonstrating to the whole world that they are brutish beasts without respect for civilized mores and the law and they should not be taken seriously when they protest .