Like most democracies in the world, Sierra Leone has three arms of government: the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary which are vested with the powers to operate independently.
The independence of these three bodies need not to be emphasized as it is believed that they (the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary) are separated in terms of their functions in order to ensure that there is separation of powers, and the tendencies of dictatorship in a democratic state are avoided.
Given the rampant rate of sexual penetration of minors in the country, President Bio recently declared a National Emergency against Sexual Offences in all forms thus: the penalty for sexual penetration of minors (Seventeen (17) years and below) as life imprisonment of anybody found wanting.
This move by the president has been viewed by the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) as one which does not only interfere with the powers of the legislature, which is law making but also dictates to judges.
According to SLBA, parliament which is the supreme body vested with the law making and amending mandate by Section 105 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone has not amended the provisions of Section 19 of the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 up to the date the directive was made by President Bio.
The Bar holds strongly to the belief that a law that was passed by an Act of Parliament cannot be repealed, replaced or amended by a mere declarative or directive by the president.
That (the amendment or making) of laws can be done subject to part V of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, they (SLBA) referenced.
SLBA also pointed out that the proclamation that was made by the president contradicts the Sexual Offences Act of 2012.
Whereas President Bio stated that 17 years and below, the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 states 18 years and below.
The Association (SLBA) noted the task of issuing directives to judges should be performed by the Master and Registrar not by the Administrative Assistant to the Honorable Chief Justice as was delegated to the latter.
The Bar has called on the Chief Justice to withdraw the directive that was made to the judges and allow parliament to perform its function.