August 7, 2015
Supreme Court Judge, Justice Nicholas Brown-Marke declared open a one-day ASJP-funded Strategic Planning Workshop of the Legal Aid Board by underlining the importance of sound planning in ensuring success for any organization.
Justice Brown-Marke in his capacity as Chair of the workshop which was hosted at the Cube Restaurant, Maritime House on Wednesday, August 5 drew attention to the impending launch of the Legal Aid Board and alluded to the high expectations among the public regarding benefits they hope to derive from the organization. ‘People expect things to happen immediately’he cautioned. ‘But this will take time because Lawyers and Paralegals will be involved and a lot of planning will go into deploying them.
The honorable Judge noted that most people think the legal system is only concerned with judgment. ‘People are concern with the results but thereare a lot of other things that go into it’ he said. He noted delays in the delivery of justice start right from the outset. He agreed that there are a lot of people on remand but noted these things are bound to happen when the resources are inadequate.
He called on participants to use the opportunity provided by the workshop to help the Legal Aid Board plan properly. He noted that their inputs will go a long way into alleviating the problems confronting the justice system.
The Chair of the Legal Aid Board, Justice Adeliza Showers reminded participants that the Legal Aid Board is new and therefore appropriate to have a workshop of this nature. She underlined the fact that the organization is independent and will ensure poor people who cannot afford to pay for legal services benefit from it. She noted that the organization will have to work speedily to establish a presence across the country.
The representative of Access to Security and Justice Programme (ASJP), Dr. Ibrahim Bangura said his agency is impressed with the amount of work that has gone into having the organization up and running. He noted that his agency is committed to supporting access tojustice. He said the Strategic Plan is the beginning of a process which is expected to peak with time. ‘We will engage in consultations with the Legal Aid Board to ensure it succeeds. We are here with you and we will remain with you until the process is completed. This is no business as usual’ he told participants. Among future support for the organization, he noted that his agency will support a baseline survey of legal aid providers.
In her presentation, The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Claire Carlton-Hanciles noted that organizations providing legal aid operate in clusters as such parts of the country are left out. She said her organization will ensure this situation is addressed. She disclosed that her organization will be signing a partnership agreement with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), which she noted will strengthen public education for the organization. In addition, they will be working closely with juvenileserving organizations to ensure they benefit from her organization.
The workshop was climaxed with presentations on ‘Developing the Strategic Plan Framework’ and ‘Strategic Plan Implementation Schedule’ by Ms. Memuna Pratt Head of Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Fourah Bay College. Ms. Pratt talked participants through the various stages in developing a strategic plan including tools for analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. She described a strategic plan as synonymous with a business plan or business portfolio. She underscored the importance of the workshop in shaping the future direction of the organization in terms of what it intends to achieve and how it will go about it.
The discussion on the Draft Strategy Plan by participants also formed the highpoint of the workshop. This includes the number of offices across the country, vehicles, in-house lawyers and paralegals the organization should have in two and five years. One group suggested that the organization should have offices in all the regional headquarter towns in two years. In five years, it should have offices in the fourteen district headquarter towns.