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Constitution of Sierra Leone (1991, reinst. 1996, rev. 2008)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1

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3CHAPTER I. THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE

41. DECLARATION OF REPUBLIC

5Sierra Leone is a Sovereign Republic, the boundaries of which are delimited in the First Schedule hereto.

62. PUBLIC SEAL

7The Public Seal of the Republic shall be such a device as Parliament shall prescribe.

83. THE NATIONAL FLAG AND NATIONAL ANTHEM

91. a. The Flag of which the design is described in paragraph (b) hereof is hereby declared to be the National Flag of Sierra Leone.

10b. The design of the Flag shall be from the top of the Flag to the bottom thereof, three horizontal stripes of green, white and blue.

11c. The normal size of the Flag for official use shall be in the proportion of nine units across to six units down.

122. The National Anthem of the Republic shall be such as Parliament shall prescribe.

13CHAPTER II. FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY

144. FUNDAMENTAL OBLIGATIONS OF GOVERNMENT

15All organs of Government and all authorities and persons exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers shall conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter.

165. GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE

171. The Republic of Sierra Leone shall be a State based on the principles of Freedom, Democracy and Justice.

182. It is accordingly declared that—

19a.sovereignty belongs to the people of Sierra Leone from whom Government through this Constitution derives all its powers, authority and legitimacy;

20b.the security, peace and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone shall be the primary purpose and responsibility of Government, and to this end it shall be the duty of the Armed Forces, the Police, Public Officers and all security agents to protect and safeguard the people of Sierra Leone; and

21c.the participation of the people in the governance of the State shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

226. POLITICAL OBJECTIVES

231. The motto of the Republic of Sierra Leone shall be Unity, Freedom and Justice.

242. Accordingly, the State shall promote national integration and unity and discourage discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties.

253. For the purposes of promoting national integration and unity, the State shall—

26a.provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout Sierra Leone; and

27b.secure full rights of residence for every citizen in all parts of the State.

284. The State shall protect and defend the liberty of the individual, enforce the rule of law and ensure the efficient functioning of Government services.

295. The State shall take all steps to eradicate all corrupt practices and the abuse of power.

307. ECONOMIC OBJECTIVES

311. The State shall within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution—

32a.harness all the natural resources of the nation to promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self-reliant economy;

33b.manage and control the national economy in such a manner as to secure the maximum welfare and freedom of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of opportunity;

34c.protect the right of any citizen to engage in any economic activity without prejudice to the rights of any other person to participate in areas of the economy;

35d.place proper and adequate emphasis on agriculture in all its aspects so as to ensure self-sufficiency in food production; and

36e.ensure that Government shall always give priority and encouragement to Sierra Leoneans to participate in all spheres of the economy in furtherance of these objectives.

378. SOCIAL OBJECTIVES

381. The Social Order of the State shall be founded on the ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice.

392. In furtherance of the Social Order—

40a.every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations, and opportunities before the law, and the State shall ensure that every citizen has an equal right and access to all opportunities and benefits based on merit;

41b.the State shall recognise, maintain and enhance the sanctity of the human person and human dignity; and

42c.the Government shall secure and maintain the independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law and unfettered access thereto, and to this end shall ensure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on the basis of equal opportunity, and that opportunities for securing justice are not denied any citizen by reason of economic or other disability.

433. The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that—

44a.every citizen, without discrimination on any grounds whatsoever, shall have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunities to secure suitable employment;

45b.conditions of service and work are fair, just and humane and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and for social, religious and cultural life;

46c.the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused, and in particular that special provisions be made for working women with children, having due regard to the resources of the State;

47d.there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons, having due regard to the resources of the State;

48e.there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, and that adequate and satisfactory remuneration is paid to all persons in employment; and

49f.the care and welfare of the aged, young and disabled shall be actively promoted and safeguarded.

509. EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

511. The Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal rights and adequate educational opportunities for all citizens at all levels by—

52a.ensuring that every citizen is given the opportunity to be educated to the best of his ability, aptitude and inclination by providing educational facilities at all levels and aspects of education such as primary, secondary, vocational, technical, college and university;

53b.safeguarding the rights of vulnerable groups, such as children, women and the disabled in securing educational facilities; and

54c.providing the necessary structures, finance and supportive facilities for education as and when practicable.

552. The Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy, and to this end shall direct its educational policy towards achieving—

56a.free adult literacy programmes;

57b.free compulsory basic education at primary and junior secondary school levels; and

58c.free senior secondary education as and when practicable.

593. The Government shall promote the learning of indigenous languages and the study and application of modern science, foreign languages, technology, commerce and business.

6010. FOREIGN POLICY OBJECTIVES

61The Foreign Policy Objectives of the State shall be—

62a.the promotion and protection of the National interest;

63b.the promotion of sub-regional, regional and inter-African co-operation and unity;

64c.the promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of international peace and security and mutual respect among all nations, and respect for their territorial integrity and independence; and

65d.respect for international law and treaty obligations, as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or adjudication.

6611. OBLIGATIONS OF THE MASS MEDIA

67The press, radio and television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Constitution and highlight the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.

6812. ENHANCEMENT OF NATIONAL CULTURE

69The Government shall—

70a.promote Sierra Leonean culture such as music, art, dance, science, philosophy, education and traditional medicine which is compatible with national development;

71b.recognize traditional Sierra Leonean institutions compatible with national development;

72c.protect and enhance the cultures of Sierra Leone; and

73d.facilitate the provision of funds for the development of culture in Sierra Leone.

7413. DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN

75Every citizen shall—

76a.abide by this Constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the National Flag, the National Anthem and authorities and offices established or constituted under this Constitution or any other law;

77b.cultivate a sense of nationalism and patriotism so that loyalty to the State shall override sectional, ethnic, tribal or other loyalties;

78c.protect and preserve public property and prevent the misappropriation and squandering of funds belonging to the Government, local authorities or public corporations;

79d.help enhance the power, prestige and good name of the State and to defend the State and render national service as may be required;

80e.respect the dignity and religion of other individuals, and the rights and interests of others;

81f.make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress, and well-being of the community, wherever he resides;

82g.work conscientiously in a lawful and chosen occupation and abstain from any activity detrimental to the general welfare of others;

83h.ensure the proper control and upbringing of his children and wards;

84i.participate in and defend all democratic processes and practices; and

85j.render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.

8614. FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES NOT JUSTICIABLE

87Notwithstanding the provisions of section 4, the provisions contained in this Chapter shall not confer legal rights and shall not be enforceable in any court of law, but the principles contained therein shall nevertheless be fundamental in the governance of the State, and it shall be the duty of Parliament to apply these principles in making laws.

88CHAPTER III. THE RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION OF FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL

8915. FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL

90Whereas every person in Sierra Leone is entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, has the right, whatever his race, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following—

91a.life, liberty, security of person, the enjoyment of property, and the protection of law;

92b.freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association;

93c.respect for private and family life; and

94d.protection from deprivation of property without compensation;

95the subsequent provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to the aforesaid rights and freedoms, subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others, or the public interest.

9616. PROTECTION OF RIGHT TO LIFE

971. No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Sierra Leone, of which he has been convicted.

982. Without prejudice to any liability for a contravention of any other law with respect to the use of force in such cases as are hereinafter mentioned, a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section if he dies as a result of the use of force to such extent as is reasonably justifiable in the circumstances of the case, that is to say—

99a.for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property; or

100b.in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or

101c.for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or

102d.in order to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence; or

103e.if he dies as a result of a lawful act of war.

10417. PROTECTION FROM ARBITRARY ARREST OR DETENTION

1051. No person shall be deprived of his personal liberty except as may be authorised by law in any of the following cases, that is to say—

106a.in consequence of his unfitness to plead to a criminal charge; or

107b.in the execution of a sentence or order of a Court whether in Sierra Leone or elsewhere in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been convicted; or

108c.in the execution of an order of the High Court or the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court or such other court as may be prescribed by Parliament on the grounds of his contempt of any such court or of another court or tribunal or commission of inquiry as the case may be; or

109d.in the execution of an Order of a court made in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation imposed on him by law; or

110e.for the purpose of bringing him before a court or tribunal, as the case may be, in execution of the order of a court; or

111f.upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed or of being about to commit a criminal offence; or

112g.in the case of a person who has not attained the age of twenty-one years, for the purpose of his education or welfare; or

113h.for the purpose of preventing the spread of an infectious or contagious disease; or

114i.in the case of a person who is, or is reasonably suspected to be, of unsound mind, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or a vagrant, for the purpose of his care or treatment or the protection of the community; or

115j.for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of that person into Sierra Leone, or for the purpose of effecting the expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal of that person from Sierra Leone or the taking of proceedings thereto.

1162. Any person who—

117a.is arrested or detained shall be informed in writing or in a language that he understands at the time of his arrest, and in any event not later than twenty-four hours, of the facts and grounds for his arrest or detention;

118b.is arrested or detained shall be informed immediately at the time of his arrest of his right of access to a legal practitioner or any person of his choice, and shall be permitted at his own expense to instruct without delay a legal practitioner of his own choice and to communicate with him confidentially.

1193. Any person who is arrested or detained in such a case as is mentioned in paragraph (e) or (f) of subsection (1) and who is not released shall be brought before a court of law—

120a.within ten days from the date of arrest in cases of capital offences, offences carrying life imprisonment and economic and environmental offences; and

121b.within seventy-two hours of his arrest in case of other offences;

122and if any person arrested or detained in such a case as is mentioned in the said paragraph (f) is not tried within the periods specified in paragraph (a) or (b) of this section, as the case may be, then without prejudice to any further proceedings which may be brought against him he shall be released either unconditionally or upon reasonable conditions, including in particular, such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears at a later date for trial or proceedings preliminary to trial.

1234. Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained by any other person shall be entitled to compensation therefor from that other person.

12418. PROTECTION OF FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

1251. No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement, and for the purpose of this section the said freedom means the right to move freely throughout Sierra Leone, the right to reside in any part of Sierra Leone, the right to enter or leave Sierra Leone, and immunity from expulsion from Sierra Leone.

1262. Any restriction on a person’s freedom of movement which is involved in his lawful detention shall not be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section.

1273. Nothing contained in or done under authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision—

128a.which is reasonably required in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health or the conservation of the natural resources, such as mineral, marine, forest and other resources of Sierra Leone, except in so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society; or

129b.for the imposition of restrictions on the movement or residence within Sierra Leone of any person who is not a citizen thereof or the exclusion or expulsion from Sierra Leone of any such persons; or

130c.for the imposition of restrictions on the acquisition or use by any person of land or other property in Sierra Leone; or

131d.for the imposition of restrictions upon the movement or residence within Sierra Leone of public officers or members of a defence force; or

132e.for the removal of a person from Sierra Leone to be tried outside Sierra Leone for a criminal offence recognised as such by the laws of Sierra Leone, or to serve a term of imprisonment outside Sierra Leone in the execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been convicted; or

133f.for preventing the departure from Sierra Leone of a person who is reasonably suspected of having committed a crime or seeking to evade the fulfilment of an obligation imposed on him under the civil law or to evade military service:

134Provided that no court or other authority shall prohibit any such person from entering into or residing in any place to which he is indigenous; or

135g.for restricting vagrancy.

1364. If—

137a.any person whose freedom of movement has been restricted by virtue only of such a provision as is referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (3) so requests at any time during the period of that restriction not earlier than thirty days after he last made such a request during that period, his case shall be reviewed by an independent and impartial tribunal, established by law, comprising not more than three persons from amongst persons of not less than fifteen years’ standing entitled to practice in Sierra Leone as legal practitioners;

138b.any tribunal has been set up under paragraph (a), the Chairman of that tribunal shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, and the two other members of the tribunal shall be nominated by the Sierra Leone Bar Association.

1395. On any review by a tribunal in pursuance of subsection (4) of the case of any person whose freedom of movement has been restricted, the tribunal may make recommendations concerning the necessity of expediency of continuing that restriction to the authority by whom it was ordered, but unless it is otherwise provided by law, that authority shall not be obliged to act in accordance with such recommendations.

14019. PROTECTION FROM SLAVERY AND FORCED LABOUR

1411. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude or be required to perform forced labour or traffic or deal in human beings.

1422. For the purposes of this section the expression “forced labour” does not include—

143a.any labour required in consequence of a sentence or order of a court; or

144b.labour required of any person while he is lawfully detained, which though not required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court, is reasonably necessary in the interest of hygiene or for the maintenance of the place in which he is detained; or

145c.any labour required of a member of a defence force in pursuance of his duties as such or, in the case of a person who has conscientious objections to service as such a member, any labour which that person is required by law to perform in place of such service; or

146d.any labour required during a period of public emergency or calamity which threatens the life or well-being of the community; or

147e.communal labour or labour which forms part of other civic obligation.

14820. PROTECTION FROM INHUMAN TREATMENT

1491. No person shall be subject to any form of torture or any punishment or other treatment which is inhuman or degrading.

1502. Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question authorises the infliction of any kind of punishment which was lawful immediately before the entry into force of this Constitution.

15121. PROTECTION FROM DEPRIVATION OF PROPERTY

1521. No property of any description shall be compulsorily taken possession of, and no interest in or right over property of any description shall be compulsorily acquired, except where the following conditions are satisfied, that is to say—

153a.the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, the development or utilization of any property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit or the public welfare of citizens of Sierra Leone; and

154b.the necessity therefor is such as to afford reasonable justification for the causing of any hardship that may result to any person having any interest in or right over the property; and

155c.provision is made by law applicable to that taking of possession or acquisition—

156i.for the prompt payment of adequate compensation; and

157ii.securing to any person having an interest in or right over the property, a right of access to a court or other impartial and independent authority for the determination of his interest or right, the legality of the taking of possession or acquisition of the property, interest or right, and the amount of any compensation to which he is entitled and for the purpose of obtaining prompt payment of that compensation.

1582. Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the making or operation of any law in so far as it provides for the taking of possession or acquisition of property—

159a.in satisfaction of any tax, rate or due;

160b.by way of penalty for breach of the law whether under civil process or after conviction of a criminal offence;

161c.as an incident of a lease, tenancy, mortgage charge, bill of sale, pledge or contract;

162d.by way of the vesting or administration of trust property, enemy property; bona vacantia, property of prohibited aliens, or the property of persons adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt or insolvent, persons of unsound mind, deceased persons, or bodies corporate or incorporate in the course of being wound up;

163e.in the execution of judgements or orders of courts;

164f.by reason of such property being in a dangerous state or liable to cause injuries to the health of human beings, animals or plants;

165g.in consequence of any law with respect to the limitation of actions;

166h.for so long only as such taking of possession may be necessary for the purposes of any examination, investigation, trial, or inquiry, or, in the case of land, the carrying out thereon—

167i.of work of soil conservation or the conservation of other natural resources; or

168ii.of agricultural development or improvement which the owner or occupier of the land has been required, and has without reasonable or lawful excuse refused or failed to carry out.

1693. Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the making or operation of any law for the compulsory taking of possession in the public interest of any property or the compulsory acquisition in the public interest in or right over property, where that property, interest or right is held by a body corporate which is established directly by any law and in which no moneys have been invested other than moneys provided by Parliament or by the Legislature of the former Colony and Protectorate of Sierra Leone.

1704. Any such property of whatever description compulsorily taken possession of, and any interest in, or right over, property of any description compulsorily acquired in the public interest or for public purposes, shall be used only in the public interest or for the public purposes for which it is taken or acquired.

1715. Where any such property as is referred to in subsection (4) is not used in the public interest or for the public purposes for which it was taken or acquired, the person who was the owner immediately before the compulsory taking or acquisition, as the case may be, shall be given the first option of acquiring that property, in which event he shall be required to refund the whole or such part of the compensation as may be agreed upon between the parties thereto; and in the absence of any such agreement such amount as shall be determined by the High Court.

17222. PROTECTION FOR PRIVACY OF HOME AND OTHER PROPERTY

1731. Except with his own consent, no person shall be subjected to the search of his person or his property or the entry by others on his premises, or interference with his correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic and electronic communications.

1742. Nothing contained in or done under authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision that is reasonably required—

175a.in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, or the development or utilization of any property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit; or

176b.to enable anybody corporate established directly by any law or any department of the Government or any local authority to enter on the premises of any person in order to carry out work in connection with any property or installation which is lawfully on such premises and which belongs to that body corporate or to the Government or to that authority, as the case may be; or

177c.for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons; or

178d.for the purpose of executing any judgement or order of a court; or

179e.for the purpose of affording such special care and assistance as are necessary for the health, safety, development and well-being of women, children and young persons, the aged and the handicapped;

180and except in so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

18123. PROVISION TO SECURE PROTECTION OF LAW

1821. Whenever any person is charged with a criminal offence he shall unless the charge is withdrawn, be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.

1832. Any court or other authority prescribed by law for the determination of the existence or extent of civil rights or obligations shall be independent and impartial; and where proceedings for such determination are instituted by or against any person or authority or the Government before such court or authority, the case shall be given fair hearing within a reasonable time.

1843. All proceedings of every court and proceedings relating to the determination of the existence or the extent of civil rights or obligations before any court or other authority, including the announcement of the decision of the court or other authority, shall be held in public:

185Provided that the court or other authority may, to such an extent as it may consider necessary or expedient in circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interest of justice or interlocutory civil proceedings or to such extent as it may be empowered or required by law so to do in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, the welfare of persons under the age of twenty-one years or the protection of the private lives of persons concerned in the proceedings, exclude from its proceedings, persons other than the parties thereto and their legal representatives.

1864. Every person who is charged with a criminal offence, shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved, or has pleaded guilty:

187Provided that nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this subsection, to the extent that the law in question imposes on any person charged as aforesaid the burden of proving particular facts.

1885. Every person who is charged with a criminal offence—

189a.shall be informed at the time he is charged in the language which he understands and in detail, of the nature of the offence charged;

190b.shall be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;

191c.shall be permitted to defend himself in person or by a legal practitioner of his own choice;

192d.shall be afforded facilities to examine in person or by his legal practitioner the witnesses called by the prosecution before any court and to obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court on the same conditions as those applying to witnesses called by the prosecution; and

193e.shall be permitted to have without payment the assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand the language used at the trial of the charge:

194Provided that nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this subsection to the extent that the law in question prohibits legal representation in a Local Court.

1956. When a person is tried for any criminal offence, the accused person or any person authorised by him in that behalf shall if he so requires, and subject to the payment of such reasonable fee as may be prescribed by law, be given within a reasonable time, and in any event not more than three months after trial, a copy for the use of the accused person of any record of the proceedings made by or on behalf of the court.

1967. No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence.

1978. No penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence which is severer in degree or description than the maximum penalty which might have been imposed for that offence at the time when it was committed.

1989. No person who shows that he has been tried by any competent court for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for any other offence of which he could have been convicted at the trial for that offence save upon the order of a superior court made in the course of appeal proceedings relating to the conviction or acquittal; and no person shall be tried for a criminal offence if he shows that he has been pardoned for that offence:

199Provided that nothing in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this subsection by reason only that it authorises any court to try a member of a defence force for a criminal offence notwithstanding any trial and conviction or acquittal of that member under service law; but any court so trying such a member and convicting him shall in sentencing him to any punishment take into account any punishment awarded him under service law.

20010. Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of any provisions of this section, other than subsections (7) and (8), to the extent that the law in question authorises the taking during a period of public emergency of measures that are reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists before or during that period of public emergency.

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