20th July 2017
Legal Aid Board is Proud of its Progress Report for 2016 in Sierra Leone
By Press Release (19/01/17)
The Legal Aid Board has defended five thousand one hundred and sixty-four adults and two hundred twenty juvenile accused persons.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has told a cross section of civil society groups including the Sierra Leone Motor Drivers Union and the National Farmer Federation that she is very proud of what the scheme achieved in 2016. (Pictured: Justice Minister Joseph F. Kamara).
"We established offices in six district headquarters towns upcountry and covered all the seventeen Magistrates and three High Courts in that part of the country. It was not easy but it feels good that we were able to touch the lives of those who needed our services the most. I’m talking of those who had spent months or years of uncertain future on remand because they do not have an indictment and therefore cannot have their day in court," the LAD Executive Director noted.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles has confirmed that the Board has so far defended five thousand one hundred and sixty-four (5,164) adults and two hundred and twenty (220) juvenile accused persons and the adults include 159 women.
She said if you divide this among our thirteen lawyers, it will give you an idea of the workload for each. "Seven of the lawyers, those for our upcountry offices were recruited in August and deployed in September 2016," Director Calton-Hanciles disclosed.
She attributed the successes of the Board in providing legal assistance to such a large number to hard work. "Our lawyers take on far more cases than many other lawyers. Also, they are punctual and do not ask for adjournment which is partly responsible for delays in the courts," Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said.
She also noted that the Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Service has been a huge success and disclosed that seven thousand seven hundred and ninety-four (7,794) persons benefited from the Alternative Dispute Resolution services since it was introduced in March 2016.
"We have resolve disputes of a non-criminal natures between individuals, groups and communities around the country. Our staff have been to remote areas of the country to resolve disputes and have contributed immensely to peace and security," she said.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said four thousand six hundred and sixty-one (4,661) pupils from schools around the country benefited from the Board’s legal education programme which is geared towards ensuring that they are educated on the mandate of the Board, how the justice delivery system works, issues of rule of law and human rights. She said our legal education programme is conducted through outreach and we have visited most of the secondary schools in the provincial headquarters towns and many in the Western Urban.
She added that outreach events have been held in communities around the country. She disclosed that over seven thousand people have benefited from the programme and therefore have become knowledgeable on how the justice system works.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said calls from civil society to provide support to former prison inmates including clients of the Board who are struggling to either gain acceptance or make a living following their return into mainstream society resulted in the development of the Reintegration Programme.
She thanked the National Farmers Association for providing jobs to thirty former clients of the Board. She acknowledged the efforts of authorities at the Connaught Hospital for providing free medical to sick Board clients at the time of their release. Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said the Board had very successful meetings with hundred and five Legal Aid Services providers in the country.
"We met with them in Freetown and the regional headquarters towns in December and will be building on the successes to increase access to justice delivery around the country. Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said the Board had done a lot in strengthening justice delivery at community level," she noted.
Moreover, the LAB boss said the Board has secured office space for the Citizens Advisory Bureau in ten Wards in the Western Area. "I must salute the Councillors and other stakeholders for making this possible in their Wards. The Bureau wards will be the first port of call for members of the community who have law and order issues," Ms. Carlton-Hanciles concluded.