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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

LAB trains paralegals on SGBV

July 5, 2021

By Yusufu S. Bangura

Legal Aid Board (LAB), in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),last Friday organised one day training for six new paralegal from Kono District on support to victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), using community level legal aid structures in three chiefdoms within Kono.

Speaking during the one day training at their main office in Freetown, LAB Programme  Manager, Joseph Dumbuya, said LAB is a big family and that  they organised the training for paralegals because they were monitoring the work of the local court at community levels.

He said the paralegals were joining them at a time when they have achieved   higher height and that they needed to maintain it by giving their commitment to the institution, adding that during a research that was conducted by Open Society Foundation, they were rated as the most performing legal institution with 47%.

He continues that the paralegals must have the energy to do their work because they provide services to poor Sierra Leoneans who are the most disadvantage people to accessing the justice system.

The Programme Manager  called on  the paralegals to understand their job by reading the law- the LAB Act, the four gender laws and the Local Court Act, which they needed  to understand before they carry the mantle of paralegals.

He said the local court administration handles a lot of matters that they should not be heard and determined by the magistrate courts, thus they should be ready to fight for those who are in conflicts with the law.

He told them that they would face a lot of challenges while doing their work, but that they have to find ways to manage those pressures in the interest of the poor people that need justice.

Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, Executive Director of LAB, said they were working in 23 towns and villages in Kono, adding that they were working with the laws by making sure that the common man access justice.

She thanked UNDP for giving them six paralegals that will work in remote communities in Kono, where a lot of domestic violence take place because people in that part of the country are not that too knowledgeable  about the law, so they cannot respect it.

She called on the government to support them because they needed paralegals in all chiefdoms across the country.

She called on them to work with the police, correctional service officers and magistrate courts because their work is to help the poor masses.

She added that they should also not forget about women and children who suffer the most in rural communities.

“I want you all to always dress like lawyers for the people to respect you because you are working like lawyers and you all should not involve in any form of violence because you are there to defend the poor people. I also want to appeal to you all not to collect money from people that why’s we are paying you,” she said.

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