September 30, 2016 By Santigie Kamara
The Mayor of Kenema City, Joseph S Kaifala, has on Tuesday 26th September 2016 showered praises on the role of Legal Aid Board in Sierra Leone, adding that they were making it possible for those who could not afford to hire the service of a lawyer to access justice.
Mayor Kaifala made the above statement to the indigenes of Kenema and it immediate environs, while serving as the Chairman during an engagement with the Legal Aid Board and other stakeholders at the District Council Hall.
He informed the gathering that the Legal Aid Board was one of the greatest opportunities the government of President Koroma has provided for those who could not afford to hire the services of a lawyer.
Mayor Kaifala also informed the gathering that a considerable number of people in the Kenema City and beyond lost their cases in court because they could not afford to hire the services of lawyers.
“It is a great blessing for us to have the Legal Aid Board in Kenema City,” he said, adding that the most burning issue that was affecting them was the indiscriminate manner in which Commercial Motorcycle Riders were being charged to court and incarcerated in jail for minor offences.
Mayor Joseph S.Kaifala affirmed that whenever Commercial Motorcycle Riders were found guilty in court, most of them could not afford to pay the whooping amount of Six hundred thousand Leones imposed on them as a fine.
He made it clear that there was a provision in the Road Traffic Act which stipulates minimal fines for traffic offences, noting that the Legal Aid Board should step in and mediate between the police and the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority on one hand and the Commercial Motorcycle Riders on the other hand to explore alternative sentencing.
“Traffic offenders could be asked to pay a minimal amount when tickets are issued to them,” Mayor Kaifala said.
Meanwhile,head of Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles informed the gathering that when President Koroma attended the UN Summit in New York recently, he informed the world body about the stance taken by his government to address access to justice.
She said the Legal Aid Board was formed by an Act of Parliament in a bid to attend to community problems and settle disputes amicably between disputing parties.
Ms. Carlton–Hanciles said certain minor disputes should not be in court because they were ought to be addressed at community level by stakeholders.
Paramount Chief of Jawai Chiefdom,G.Kallon expressed appreciation for the presence of Legal Aid Board in Kenema District and other parts of the country, noting that the board would mitigate the crime rate that has already eclipsed his Chiefdom.
The Paramount Chief assured of his support, adding that his door was opened to the Board and that he would inform his subjects accordingly about the progress.
Assistant Inspector General of Police Eastern Region, Alfred Karrow Kamara said the idea of Legal Aid was not a new phenomenon in the world.
He dilated extensively on the merits people would derive from the Board, pointing out that it would help them immensely in addressing minor matters that were flooding the court rooms.
Commanding Officer of the Kenema battalion, Major Katta also spoke about the importance of Legal Aid Board in that part of the country and how it would improve on the justice sector.
The Provisional Secretary East, George Penykie said the Board would help to look into issues that have the propensity of graduating into conflict.
He assured the Board of their support, noting that so many organizations had come up and vanished into thin air, thus expressing optimism that the Legal Aid Board would stand the test of time.