…Cautions Sierra Leoneans
November 20, 2015 By Memunatu Bangura
President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday cautioned Sierra Leoneans that the new Legal Aid Board (LAB) would only support citizens whose fundamental human rights have been violated.
The president was speaking while officially launching the Legal Aid Board at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown.
“It is not because the Legal Aid Board has been established people should break the law and not respecting the police and other authorities in the country. The board will only support people within the law and anyone who flouts the law will have to defend himself in court,” he said.
President Koroma said that the Legal Aid Board would provide legal representation to indigent Sierra Leoneans who could not access justice because they are poor.
He said his government was committed to upholding the rights of every Sierra Leonean as provided for in the constitution of Sierra Leone, adding that every accused person should have a fair trial.
He maintained that the board would not support lawless Sierra Leoneans who deliberately break the law and expect free legal representation.
“It is the duty of the government to improve the condition of the Judiciary in ensuring that processes in the court are fast-tracked and the cost of justice should be accessible for all,” declared President Koroma.
He noted that justice was an expensive, but that the Legal Aid Board is the poor man’s lawyer and admonished Sierra Leoneans not to misuse the intervention of the board, urging citizens to commit themselves to the sustainability of the board.
Executive Director at the Legal Aid Board, Mrs Claire Carlton-Hanciles, said the board was established in 2012 with the aim of providing legal representation to low income earners who cannot access legal aid.
She said that the board has helped diverse individuals from different parts of the country, as well as aided the release of over fifty inmates from correctional centres across the country.
Mrs. Carlton-Hanciles maintained that the cost of legal representation was very expensive in the country, and that not everyone can access justice.
She commended President Koroma and revealed that since the commencement of the September session of the High Court the board has been directly involved in over two hundred litigations, thus leading to the release of eighty eight inmates, with seventy eight aided by the board.