December 2, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
In their bid to ensure peaceful co-existence among residents in the Freetown municipality, the Legal Board of Sierra Leone yesterday met with the Mayor of the Freetown City Council as part of building partnership between the two institutions.
Speaking at the Mayor’s Parlour on Wallace-Johnson Street in Freetown, Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board, Ms. Claire Carlton-Hanciles said the Legal Aid Board was established by an Act of Parliament in 2012 with a view to provide legal aid to people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent them in court, adding that their core services are to provide legal information and education, legal advice and provide legal representation to indigent persons.
She said the Legal Aid Act provides that anyone who appears before a Magistrate, Judge and or in police and does not have a lawyer and cannot afford to hire one shall be represented by the Legal Aid Board.
She noted that like in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, they have the Citizens Advisory Board that works in the interest of the citizens, adding that was why they decided to meet with the FCC to forge partnership with the latter and to provide them legal education they could use to address issues or direct people to go to the right place when they feel aggrieved.
She said the board would be proving free paralegal training to councilors to help the latter address problems related to law in their various Wards across the Freetown Municipality.
She noted that matters are going to the court that should otherwise have been settled out of court, adding that providing paralegal training to councilors could address some of these legal challenges.
In his response, Mayor Sam Franklyn Bababode Gibson said he welcomed the initiative and believed it would help change the behavior and impact the lives of the citizens in Freetown.
He promised to ensure that all his councilors and Ward Committee members would cooperate with the Legal Aid Board to achieve their aims and objectives.
The Legal Aid Act was enacted in May 2012, establishing the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board with the aim to provide legal aid in Sierra Leone. The Board’s priority is to serve the legal interests of low income earning Sierra Leoneans, with its core services being to provide legal information and education, provide legal advice and provide legal representation to their clients.