The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Hon. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara has said that they will continue to provide justice for the poor across the country.
He made this remarks while launching the Legal Aid Board (LAB) office in the southern city of Bo at the coronation field over the weekend which attracted over thousands of people from all works of life.
Hon. Kamara made it clear to the people of Bo City that the “scaling up” access to justice campaign is for the poor and therefore ask them to take the full advantage of the benefit it is rendering.
He commended President Koroma with the vision of establishing the Legal Aid Board adding that he was strongly advised by President Koroma to give justice to the poor.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice informed the gathering that the launching provides an opportunity to listen to the grassroots regarding their ideas about the laws.
He added that it is good to have a forum because it helps to known the effect of certain steps that are taken. He underscored the essence of justice in the sustenance of peace, stressing that, the late RUF leader Corporal Foday Sankoh stood firm to revenge his unjust increment for more than three terms to unseat the Government.
Hon. Kamara explained to the people of Bo that the law makes provisions for punishment but cautioned that such punishment should not exceed what is provided for by law stating that the Legal Aid Board is looking for people in this kind of condition so they could have justice.
The Minister expressed his Government concern at expanding access to justice, noting that almost 90% of the districts across the country have Magistrates and Lawyers to ensure that the poor are not charge huge amount for legal representation in court.
He assured the gathering that the Government will increase the number of Judges up country to speed up justice, adding that circuit Judges will be visiting up country to sit on cases to reduce the huge backlog of cases.
Talking about empowering women, he told the gathering that the Government has manifested leadership role to ensure equality for all through the appointment of women into higher positions.
He stated that customary marriage act encourages traditional marriages, noting that it will ensure men do not take advantage of women.
He further stated that, this is why divorce in traditional setting will now have to go through the legal process.
In her own comment, Executive Director of Legal Aid Board, Mrs. Fatmata Claire Carton Hanciles explained before the advent of the Legal Aid Board, the poor and the vulnerable faces a lot of challenges in accessing justice.
She emphasised that: “Today human rights lawyers of the Board have joined hands together with the Government in making sure that the poor have access to justice.”
She boasted by saying that the Board is equipped with lawyers across the nation to provide legal assistance and people do not have to pay a single cent for such services.
The Executive Director pointed out with funds from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) the Board will be deploying paralegals in every part of the country to monitor the police, correctional centres and local courts to promote access to justice, and called on the people of Bo to be law abiding.
She explained the needs to expand access to justice in remote areas, saying that they will be training paramount chiefs as paralegals to provide some amount of justice where there are no lawyers.
Chairman of the civil society south, Jeremiah Ben Simbo assured the Legal Aid Board for their support to make justice reaches the poor to make Sierra Leone a place of paradise homes for both the poor and the rich, adding that the Board will not allow lawlessness of any kind.