Judiciary of Sierra Leone Communications Unit, CJ Chambers, Main Law Courts Building, Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown: Cross-section of Commissioners from the Independent Media Commission (IMC) has today, Tuesday, 9th February 2021 visited the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards to strengthen enforcement of the newly amended IMC Act of 2020.
Among the team were Commissioner Ansu Baatilo Lansana Esq; the Executive Secretary Khalil Kallon; Commissioner Dr. Francis Sowa; Commissioner Mustapha MK Sesay; Commissioner Melinda Davies and Commissioner Eranus Thompson.
The IMC had proffered a draft Warrant to shut down the operations of media houses that failed to comply with their orders and directions pursuant to sections 16(1) which they wanted the judiciary to respond to.
In his presentation, the IMC’s Commissioner, Ansu Baatilo Lansana Esq said their visit was to follow up on a previous request for the Chief Justice to determine the process of shutting down media houses that are not in compliance with the Commission’s directives under Section 16 (1) of the IMC Act, No. 5 of 2020 as amended. Section 16 (1) states “that where the Commission suspends or cancels a license under section 14 or registration of a person or institution under Section 15, the Commission shall order that person or institution to shut down and stop operations unless he complies with the directives of the Commission.”
“My Lord let me firstly thank you for sparing us part of your crowded time in fulfillment of our collective mission as a nation,” said Ansu Lansana Esq., stressing that they have done their own part as a Commission but needed to canvass the Chief Justice to support them in strengthening the amended IMC Act with the implementation of a Warrant from the Court.
In his reaction, his Lordship the Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards said the new IMC Act under Section 16(2) provides for the issuance of a Warrant by the High Court to shut down non-compliant media institutions but failed to detail the procedure in the Court to securing such Warrants after the failure of the institution to comply with the IMC’s Orders or directions.
In that regard, the Chief Justice stated that while the power resides with the Court, he will give out Practice Directions or guidelines that would ensure that ex parte applications are made to a Judge in Chambers supported by an affidavit justifying the need for the Warrant to entertain such applications for Warrants to be issued. He noted also that he will assign special judges to be handling these types of Applications.
He assured the IMC Commissioners of the Judiciary’s undaunted support in the discharge of their duties.
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