May 29, 2017 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
With the aim of building public confidence, accountability, fairness and new direction, the newly appointed Ombudsman in Sierra Leone, Lawyer Melron Nicol-Wilson, has officially launched his 100-day strategic action plans.
Speaking at the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists Head Office on Campbell Street in Freetown, Lawyer Nicol-Wilson said the 100-day action plan was to empower his office to deliver on administrative justice and safeguard human rights in Sierra Leone.
He stated that the 100-day strategic plans came as a result of the nationwide consultation and institutional assessment conducted by his office in Freetown and the regional offices in Bo, Makani and Kenema respectively.
He said the Power Project, the empowerment project and the delivery project were focused on enhancing public confidence, accountability, fairness and a new direction.
He said the ‘Power Project’ was to give enforcement to the office of the Ombudsman to enable it administer justice and safeguard human rights.
To achieve the above, he stated that he has consulted group of legal experts and stakeholders to review the Ombudsman Act of 1997.
Lawyer Nicol-Wilson said he has proposed an amendment to the Ombudsman Act of 1997, with a view to enacting the enforcement powers for the Office of the Ombudsman.
According to the learned lawyer, the ‘empowerment project was to empower the office of the Ombudsman to deliver its mandate, and that to attain it, he has to relocate the head office of the Ombudsman to a more conducive environment that would be fit for purpose and would also provide support to regional offices.
He promised to design a new organogram for the office and Term of Reference for units and members of staff in order to develop the institution and also improve the website design that would publish a quarterly newsletter, as well as develop other relevant information and communication technology that would enhance the work of the Ombudsman.
The new Ombudsman has also planned to recruit additional staff including programme, mediation and legal experts to deal with cases speedily with the highest level of professionalism and integrity.
He said he would support Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), to create effective internal grievance mechanisms, with a view to reducing the number of reported complaints to the Ombudsman.
He said he would develop and sign an MOU with line institutions such as the Legal Aid Board, Anti-Corruption Commission, Ministry of Labour, Human Rights Commission, and the Judiciary, among others, to ensure an effective case management and referral system.
He disclosed that he assumed office with only five vehicles, and two investigators and because of the lack of enough investigators they have over three hundred backlog cases nationwide.
He expressed thanks to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for giving him green light to recruit four additional staffs immediately.
He said the office was having only 35 workers and that he was going to increase the staff capacity to 75 by next year.
President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Kelvin Lewis, who doubles as chairman of the event, said the office of the ombudsman was charged with the responsibility of handling complaints from MDAs.
He said the work of the Ombudsman is synonymous to journalism, because they receive and investigate complaints from the people and make recommendations.