HC Deb 09 April 1900 vol 81 cc1519-20
MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether district commissioners in the Protectorate of Sierra Leone have jurisdiction in capital cases, and whether there is any right of appeal from the judgment of a district commissioner in the Protectorate to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone; whether a defendant charged with a criminal offence and tried before a district commissioner can avail himself of the services of counsel or solicitor; whether officers of the Frontier Police in the Protectorate of Sierra Leone may be appointed district commissioners exercising judicial functions; and whether any, and, if so, what test of legal knowledge is imposed before the appointment of a district commissioner.


(1) The court of a district commissioner sitting with native chiefs has jurisdiction to hear and determine capital cases. There is no right of appeal from this court to the Supreme Court, but no sentence of death can be carried into effect except upon the warrant of the Governor. A district commissioner sitting alone can only take evidence in a capital case and commit the accused to the Supreme Court for trial. (2) In a district commissioner's court there is no prohibition of the employment of counsel or solicitors; but in the court of a district commissioner sitting with native chiefs counsel or solicitors are not allowed to appear in any case other than one involving the punishment of death, except by leave of the district commissioner. (3 and 4) The answer to the third question is yes, and to the fourth question, no.