- OSIWA Country Officer
December 8, 2017 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Country Officer of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) yesterday stated that equal access to justice is a significant social and economic benefit that requires a good deal of investment.
Joe Pemagbi was speaking at Bintumani Hotel in Freetown during a validation meeting of the legal needs report survey.
He said access to community-based justice remains a challenge in Sierra Leone, adding that they are helping government and non-governmental organisations enhance effective delivery of justice in the country.
“A huge number of our people do not have access to the formal justice system and even do not have confidence in the legal system,” he averred.
According to him, the Open Society Foundation (OSF) in 2016 initiated a new effort to institutionalise nationwide basic legal services to reach the most marginalised in nine low, middle and high income countries across Africa, including Sierra Leone.
On behalf of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, Justice Monfred Sesay opined that most people hold a wrong perception about lawyers because they latter do work in their interest.
He said the judiciary has a mandate emanating from the constitution, adding that they have never influenced or campaigned for litigation because their mandate presupposes that they should be neutral.
The judge of the appellate court of court described the report as “very crucial” as it would inform decisions and policies formulated by stakeholders in the country. He said that the judiciary is committed to delivering justice to all classes of people for the betterment of the country and its people.
Justice Monfred Sesay also commended OSIWA and partners, including the United Nations Development Programme, British Department for International Development and the European Union for their support over the years in reforming the justice sector in the country.
While presenting the report, Consultant Momo Turay said the draft report has initial findings to determine the scope and types of legal and/or justice challenges the citizenry, especially marginalised groups such as women, children and persons with disabilities, grapple with.
Turay added that they used qualitative and quantitative methods in addition to with wide range of techniques and tools for the survey to ensure a collection of quality data.