- A Sierra Leonean court that was established in 1819 for the trial of ex-combatants after the Napoleonic war in England but was burned down 180 years later by rebels in the West African country's civil war has been renovated and refurbished by UN peacekeepers.
More than 200 hundred people braved heavy rain Tuesday to attend the commissioning of the newly renovated and refurbished Waterloo Magistrates Court by the UN peacekeeping mission's (UNAMSIL) leader, Ambassador Daudi Ngalautwa Mwakawago.
According to UNAMSIL, the building had been in a dilapidated condition since rebels burnt it during the war and its rehabilitation was "a demonstration of the mission's role to sustain and consolidate the peace that it has helped restore in the country."
Commissioning the rehabilitated Waterloo Magistrates Court yesterday, Ambassador Mwakawago described the project as a beacon for the enhancement of the rule of law and dispensation of justice within the beneficiary communities.
Speaking on behalf of Sierra Leone's Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the Director of Public Prosecution, Oladipo Robin Mason commended UNAMSIL for refurbishing the court and pledged that dispensation of justice would be guaranteed.
The Chairman of the Western Area District Council, Allie Badara Mansaray, speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries said the rehabilitation of the court would go a long way to dispense justice speedily, and prevent its people from using lots of resources to attend court in Freetown, the capital. He also gave a background of the court, which was established in 1819.
The rehabilitation of the historic building had been undertaken by UNAMSIL's Pakistani team of engineers. The unusual project was implemented under Quick Impact Project of UNAMSIL's Trust Fund.
UNAMSIL's Mr Mwakawago in his speech further expressed concern about the delay in court proceedings in the country, adding: "Justice delayed is justice denied." He urged the judiciary to conduct speedy trials to prevent overcrowding in cells and unwarranted adjournments.
Set up by the UN Security Council in 1999 to help Sierra Leone recover after a peace agreement ended a decade of civil war, UNAMSIL was renewed for a final six months on 30 June. Then, national security and reconstruction is to be left totally in the hands of the Sierra Leonean government.
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