LAB gives progress report for 2017

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Ms. Carlton-Hanciles disclosed that the Board defended five thousand one hundred and sixty-four (5,164) adults and two hundred and twenty (220) juvenile accused persons. The adults include 159 women.

‘If you divide this among our thirteen lawyers, it will give you an idea of the workload for each,’ she said. ‘Seven of the lawyers, those for our upcountry offices were recruited in August and deployed in September 2016.’

 Ms. Carlton-Hanciles 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,’ she said. ‘Also, they are punctual and do not ask for adjournment which is partly responsible for delays in the courts.’

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said the Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Service has been a huge success.  Seven thousand seven hundred and ninety-four (7,794) persons benefited from the Alternative Dispute Resolution services since it was introduced in March 2016,’ she said. ‘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.’

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. ‘Our legal education programme is conducted through outreach,’ she said. ‘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 that the Board has secured office space for the Citizens Advisory Bureau in ten Wards in the Western Area. ‘I must salute the Councilors and other stakeholders for making this possible in their Wards.’

According to Ms. Carlton-Hanciles the Bureaus will be the first port of call for members of the community who have law and order issues and minor disputes. They will have an Alternative Dispute Resolution component which will be responsible for mediating  matters that are not of a criminal nature such as family, maintenance and land issues, evictions, debts, industrial disputes, employer and employee disputes  and community level problems.  In addition, they will have an employment unit to advice and provide information on job opportunities. ‘It is important to note that the Bureaus will not have legal powers to enforce their decision,’ she said.

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles thanked the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for funding thirty-five Paralegals. This has increased the number of Paralegals with the Board to forty-four. She noted that the Paralegals will be a much needed addition in monitoring the justice delivery especially at community level.