Sierra Leone’s Vise President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh Calls for Digital Rights to Go With Responsibilities

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A 4-day Judicial Training on Cybercrime and Collecting of Electronic Evidence for 20 Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature commenced on the 24th May, 2022 at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Aberdeen in Freetown. It was organized by the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, through the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (JLTI), in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Coordination Centre and the OCWAR-Project.

Giving the keynote address, during the opening ceremony of the training programme, the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh highlighted the opportunities and seemingly demerits of the digital revolution.

The Vice President intimated how the Cyberspace and new technologies have created new ways of thinking that define novel realities and relationships. He further cautioned that the new opportunities are accompanied with immense responsibilities to ensure that the cyber space is not abused and used to trample on the rights of others or threaten social peace and institutional safety.

He called on the Judiciary of Sierra Leone to ensure citizens have access to digital rights underscoring that it should at the same time ensure that citizens do not abuse such rights as well as abuse the rights of others.

VP Juldeh Jalloh stated that with clear evidence there is growing reliance on digital systems but stressed that at the same time cybercrime is on the increase.

He said against that backdrop, it was necessary for the enactment of the 2021 Cyber Security and Crime Act furthering that the Act clearly identifies penalties for violations and lays out the institutional framework to fight cybercrime including protecting the State’s critical information infrastructure.

He expressed optimism that the training will provide the space for beneficiaries to interact with experts in various digital domain maintaining how it will mark the starting point of building a legal knowledge base on cybercrime which is critical for enforcing the Act, as well as to join other nations to protect individuals, corporations, and States against cybercrimes.

He registered his appreciation to the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone for his numerous achievements and commended the Judiciary for doing well with the limited resources allocated, especially with the regular court sittings presently in all districts in Sierra Leone. Vice President Jalloh pledged Government’s continued commitment to support the Judiciary whilst acknowledging challenges facing the legal institution.

He extended thanks to the Judiciary’s JLTI and the Ministry of Information and Communications for putting together such a training program on the Cyber Act.

In his statement, the Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards stated that, “Having been in the Country’s Legal system for 32 years, I clearly do not recall any Judicial training organized by any institution or authority.”

He added that the issue of Cyber Security and Cybercrime is relatively a new phenomenon which had gripped the world since the advent of the New Millennium and we in Sierra Leone and Africa are in no small measure trying to come to grips with it.

He said the training is a necessity which is apt to modern day occurrences and technologies of life.

He reminded his audience that throughout his tenure as Chief Justice, he has organised capacity building programs as conduits for an effective and efficient Judiciary with the Judicial and Legal Training Institute under the Directorate of Supreme Court Judge, Hon. Justice Emmanuel Ekundayo Roberts which has delivered cutting edge state of the art professional development.

“Our training here falls within this strategic priority,” the Chief Justice said, noting that the training wouldn’t only be training those who will be implementing the Act to the letter by the cases that do come up for hearings but also those that would be undertaking training to be so equipped as to become trainers and pass on “the great legacy we shall be receiving during the few days.”

The Head of European Union, Amb Manuel Müller, said the EU welcomes that Sierra Leone and Countries of the region continue to take steps to strengthen governance and endow Sierra Leone with a sound legal framework to mitigate Cyber Security threats and eradicating Cybercrime.

The Sierra Leone Cybercrime Act, he continued, which came into force in 2021 goes a long way to harmonize the domestic legal framework of the country and other international agreements.

“It has been an important signal to the region and the international community of the country’s commitment to fighting Cybercrime,” said Amb. Müller.

Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq

The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Solomon Jamiru Esq explained that the training as the first of series of trainings which seek to, together with strengthening digital forensic tools and incidence monitoring and response, will no doubt crystallize in creating the resilience needed.

He went further to state that as a Ministry, they are indebted to the EU, Council of Europe, ECOWAS Commission, OCWAR-Project for the numerous strands of support provided.

“We have no doubt that we will forge ahead with one direction,…we will broaden our ambition and be smarter, more innovative and be more empowered than the rogues in the Cyber space,” the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications expressed optimism.

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