25th July 2017
How the Legal Aid Board Director Discussed Access to Justice in Vienna
By a press release (25/06/17)
The Legal Aid Board move to help the poverty-stricken continues as its boss recently visited Austria to garner more judicial assistance.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles (pictured) left the shores of Sierra Leone on Sunday, May 21 for Vienna, Austria and attended a conference to examine challenges to measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SGD) target 16.3 on access to justice at national and international level.
In particular, they discussed what the current indicators say about access to justice in the various countries and the work of international organisations, government bodies and civil society on how to measure effectively access to justice and pre-trial detention practices.
The meeting was side event organised by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Research and Justice Sections during the UNODC Crime Commission Session in Vienna, Austria. The side event was supported by the Government of Sierra Leone and the Legal Aid Board of Sierra Leone.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles was one of four speakers at the side event. The others included Eduardo Queiroz, the Public Defender, Federal Public Defender Office of Brazil; Martin Schonteich, Senior Managing Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative and Enrico Bisogno, Chief, Data Development and Dissemination Unit at UNODC.
She talked on the implementation of the legal aid scheme in Sierra Leone underlining successes in expanding access to justice to communities through the recruitment and training of paralegals within the community, establishment of Community Advisory Bureaus and legal education through outreach to schools and Communities.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles also said the Board has set itself the task of reducing the proportion of indigent persons including those on remand without legal aid to 20 percent by 2030. This will be achieved by opening more offices around the country, recruiting more lawyers, Mediators and Alternative Dispute Resolution Officers, Outreach Officers and Paralegals from the community and establishing Community Advisory Bureaus around the country.
The Director of the Open Society Justice Initiative in Budapest, Mr. Zaza Namoradze had this to say regarding Ms. Carlton-Hanciles’ invitation to the side event: “Her knowledge and expertise on access to justice and wider pre-trial justice issues in the context of Sierra Leone and wider Sustainable Development Goals agenda would greatly contribute to expert discussions.”
Prior to departing our shores, Ms. Carlton-Hanciles had spent the weekend in Koidu, Kono District for the launch of the Legal Aid Board on Saturday, May 20. She had offered no apologies when the Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Paramount Chiefs in the Kono District, Paramount Chief Tamba Emmanual Foyoh criticised the Board for defending sexual penetration cases.
“The State Counsel and Police are there to prosecute, we are there to defend the poor and vulnerable,” the LAB boss reiterated and added: “Justice must be fair and equitable.”