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26th April 2018

New Ombudsman to Change the Modus Operandi to Better Sierra Leone

By Foday Ansumana (20/04/17)

Changing the modus operandi and transform the institution from its moribund state to a flourishing one is the aim of the new Ombudsman.

Parliament has recently and unanimously approved President Ernest Bai Koroma's appointment of Melron Nicol-Wilson as Ombudsman of the Republic of Sierra Leone for a term of four years as provided for by  section 5 of The Ombudsman Act of 1997. (Pictured: President Ernest Koroma).

Nicol-Wilson will be replacing Justice Cowan who completed his second and final term as Ombudsman of the republic of Sierra Leone in March this year. 

Nicol-Wilson is an International Human Rights and Criminal Justice Lawyer. Prior to his appointment, he was Managing Partner of his Law Firm - Nicol- Wilson & Co (Malaika Chambers). He is also the first coordinator of the pilot National Legal Aid Scheme that gave birth to the Legal Aid Board. 

Melron was the first Legal Adviser of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the first Human Rights and Humanitarian Law lecturer at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra  Leone where he lectured free of cost for seven years. As a youthful Director of the Lawyers Centre for Legal Assistance ( LAWCLA) he introduced Sierra Leone to  and popularized the concept of legal aid to indigent accused persons. 

He became the youngest Defence Counsel & Case Manager at the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2003 when the court was set up and had consulted for the World Bank Legal Department, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the European Union and the Polytechnic of Namibia in Southern Africa. 

Nicol-Wilson studied law in Sierra Leone, England, South Africa, Sweden and France and holds a Masters Degree in Law (LL.M) specializing in International Human Rights Law & Constitutionalism and a Masters Degree in law  (LL.M) specialising in International Criminal Law & Justice. He holds a Bachelor of laws with honours degree (LL.B Hons) and a Barrister-at-Law degree (BL). He also holds a postgraduate Diploma in Law  and a specialized certificate in human rights teaching and research. 

Nicol-Wilson is a former Human Rights Law Teaching Fellow at the prestigious Human Rights Institute, Columbia Law School in New York, USA, where he worked under the supervision  of Professor Louis Henkin in designing a curriculum on human rights law for University students in Sierra Leone.  

He was the winner of the African Human Rights Lawyer Award also known as the Viera Chiwa Human Rights Award for 2007 and a winner of several awards in Sierra Leone including the AWOL lawyer of the year 2003, the madrugar lawyer of the year 2007, the Children Forum Lawyer of the year 2005 etc.

Nicol-Wilson has a number of handbooks and publications to his credit including A handbook on the Need for the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone; a handbook on juvenile justice in Sierra Leone; a handbook on criminalization of freedom of expression in Sierra Leone; a handbook on the need to reform discriminatory laws against women in Sierra Leone and scholarly articles on the 2001 and 2002 Australian International Law Journals and the 2007 African Human Rights Law Journal.

Melron Nicol-Wilson is married and has three children. Shortly after his parliamentary approval, Mr Nicol-Wilson stated that upon assuming office, his first task will be to do an institutional assessment  & familiarization tour to the regional offices, looking at case load & Case management, financial resources, logistics, staff strength & staff capacity in comparison with work load, office accommodation, equipment and general work environment. He said from the result of the assessment he will then design a short term (3 -12 months ), mid-term (1-3 years) and long term (3-5 year) plan of action. 

He said it will not be business as usual at the office of the Ombudsman as he intends to change the modus operandi and transform the Institution from its moribund state to a thriving and flourishing one thereby fulfilling its mandate and the expectations of his fellow Sierra Leone. 

He promises to engage the international community and donors in re-branding the institution, providing technical support and obtaining much needed funds thereby reducing the dependency on Government for funds and technical support.

He thanked his Excellency the President Ernest Bai-Koroma for the opportunity he gave to him to serve and contribute to the agenda for prosperity.

He also thanked the out-gone Ombudsman, Justice Edmond Cowan for all the work done  amidst other pressing duties at the Constitutional review Commission and said he will build on the very strong foundation created by him. 

He called upon all the staff to work assiduously  in fulfilling the mandate of the office.


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