March 10, 2017
The Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board has in a public notice announced the commencement of provisional accreditation of legal aid service providers in the country.
The exercise will end on the 31 May 2017 and those who fail to register within the deadline would have committed an offence under the Legal Aid Act 2012.
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The Act provides that an organisation which provides legal aid without being accredited commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding thirty million Leones or an imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
Explaining the benefits of being accredited with the Board, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles said the certificate will be used to recognise credible legal aid service providers, which is needed by both government and donors in dealing with or providing support to them.
According to Ms. Carlton-Hanciles, accreditation will bring much needed transparency and openness in the operations of legal aid service providers.
“It will give an idea of the number of service providers, areas of the country they operate and target beneficiaries. It will also ensure accountability in the sense that people will know the amount of support and funds provided to the service providers and the impact this is having on beneficiaries.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles added that the exercise will help service providers to coordinate their interventions and that it would prevent wastage and duplication of interventions.
“Even though we do not have the resources including human to services all those who qualify for legal aid, accreditation of service providers will ensure we impact as many people as we possibly can,”
The Legal Aid providers are required to pick up Accreditation Forms from the Legal Aid Board office close to them and forms will be processed, approved and certificate issued in any of the Legal Aid Board offices around the country.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said on the expiration of the May 31 deadline, donors would be required to provide support or funds to those who must have been accredited and recognised by the Board.