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LAB appeals to police to reduce numbers behind bars PDF Print E-mail
Written by Expotimes   
Thursday, 16 February 2017 11:12

The Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has told the senior officers of the Sierra Leone Police that the correctional centers and cells around the country continue to be full despite the fact that the Board provided legal services to twenty-six thousand (26,000) clients in 2016.

She expressed the concern while addressing the Executive Management Board of the Sierra Leone Police at their weekly meeting at the headquarters of the force on Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

She lamented the police are detaining some suspects for far too long. She urged the police to admit suspects to bail after completing investigations and to avoid imposing stiff bail conditions.

She drew attention to the case of one Francis Osman Mansaray who was held in detention for nearly one month in Makeni before he was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Department headquarters in Freetown where he is still being held.  

She also drew attention to variations in bail and sentencing. ‘We have had cases of different bail conditions for the same offence,’ she said. ‘This is why we are calling for the release of the new bail and sentencing policy without any further delay.’

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles also called on the police to issue an official statement on civil matters that shouldnot be handled by police. Allaying fears of the police, sheassuredthem that her staff know they shouldnot interfere with investigations. ‘We monitor the police to ensure investigations are consistent with the law and human rights; we do not interfere with the work of the police,’ she stressed.

Responding to an appeal from the Inspector General of Police (IG), Francis Munu not to provide legal assistance to armed robbers who have become notorious for reoffending, Ms. Carlton-Hancilessaid the scheme does not provide assistance to repeat offenders with overwhelming evidence against them. ‘A lawyer is as good as his case,’ she maintained. IG Munu had said earlier on that they detain armed robbers in order to protect society.

‘The important thing to note here is that, victims of armed robberyalso form part of the clientele of the Board,’ she said. ”People should also know that we have lost cases in court. Unfortunately, this story is not being told.’

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles also called on the police to conduct investigations in a thorough manner so that suspects are not charged with the wrong offence. ‘Those who steal should not be charged with the more serious offence of robbery with aggravation,’ she stressed. ‘There is no point charging someone with a more serious offence when the ingredients to prove the case are non-existent.’

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles assured the police that the Board has no interest in infringing on the mandate of any institution not least the Police. ‘We want to ensure there is synergy between our two institutions so that we can continue to refer matters between our two institutions,’she said.

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles intimated the police that the scheme now has a presence in every district in the country.  She disclosed that the Paralegals are running ADR clinics in these districts. ‘These efforts will reduce the pressure on the police,’ she said.

The Inspector General, FrancisMunu blamed the negative views people hold about the police on the lack of legal education. He noted that when the police refuse to intervene on matters of land encroachment and debts, people view them unfavorably even though it is the right thing to do. 

‘When the police talk to the other party in a matter in the interest of fair hearing, people interpret it negatively,’ he said.  IG Munu argued that legal education by paralegals will educate people on issues of law and the justice system. This, in his view, will help them understand the work of the police and as such make an informed judgement on their work.

Both parties agreed to collaborate to ensure hardcore criminals do not benefit from Presidential Pardons after it emerged someprison inmates have impersonated those convicted on less serious offences to benefit from the Pardons. It was suggested that officers should be present at the time when beneficiaries of Presidential Pardons are released from prison to prevent any recurrence.

 

 

Editorial

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The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

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Business News

Four illegal fishing cases found in Sierra Leone in four days

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, April 20, 2017/ -- Four illegal fishing cases have been found during a joint surveillance mission conducted by Greenpeace (www.Greenpeace.org/Africa/en) and Sierra Leone fishery authorities. Two Chinese vessels and one Korean vessel have been arrested for infringements of Sierra Leone fishing legislation, including possessing or using illegal fishing nets on board, no visible marking and a lack of required paperwork, including log books and authorisation for unloading catch. Fishing authorities ordered the vessels to return to Freetown port for further investigation. A fourth vessel, owned by an Italian company, was found with four kilograms of shark fins on board. Though not illegal under Sierra Leonean laws, this is a clear violation of European Union (EU) fishing rules. This boat’s case will be taken further with relevant EU authorities.

In addition, more than 70 bags of shark carcasses were found on one of the Chinese vessels.

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Media News

Press Freedom under Siege in West Africa: 30 Media Workers Arrested in 38 Days

The 30 victims, made up of 15 journalists and 15 media technicians, were arrested, detained and/or assaulted in 10 separate incidents in four countries namely Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Togo. Nigeria recorded six incidents, Cote d’Ivoire recorded two incidents while Guinea and Togo recorded an incident each.

In Nigeria, seven journalists were arrested and detained during the period. In Cote d’Ivoire, six journalists were arrested and detained in a single incident while one journalist each was affected in Guinea and Togo, bringing the total number of journalists affected to 15. In respect of the other media workers, nine staff of a newspaper printing firm were arrested in single incident. In Cote d’Ivoire, six technicians working with the state-owned television station were also arrested in a single incident.

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Commentary

A NEW DAWN FOR JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN SIERRA LEONE, PARLIAMENT APPROVES MELRON NICOL-WILSON AS NEW OMBUDSMAN

The Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone has overwhelmingly approved the appointment of Mr Melron Nicol-Wilson as new Ombudsman, on Tuesday April 11, 2017. This follows him being named by H.E President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as the replacement to Justice Edmond Cowan - a long-standing legal icon, who now chairs the Sierra Leone Constitutional Review Committee.

A man whose action speaks louder than words, Mr Nicol-Wilson has been appointed as new Ombudsman for Sierra Leone, a position reserved for high-profile people, who are well-respected and with unblemished character. Mr Nicol-Wilson has the typical pedigree of an Ombudsman, best known both in Sierra Leone and internationally as a champion for justice and human rights.  

The Parliament’s decision to approve Mr Nicol-Wilson was anticipated, as the high-profile human rights lawyer emerged unscathed from an exchange of views with Members of Parliament.

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View Point

ELECTION IS A TESTIMONY TO PEOPLE’S SOVEREIGNTY

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Election in any democratic setting, include the enjoyment of those rights that will elicit the full participation of individuals in determining the political life of his/her country. An election is a decision making process through which eligible citizens(those who have reached the age of majority, 18 years and above and with sound mind) freely choose their leaders through the ballot box to hold public offices for a specified term.

Generally, people vote with the expectation that the office holders would represent their communitiesand or countries best interest.  Elections are viewed as a central feature of the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Essentially, election is a testimony to peoples’ sovereignty and that ought to be respected and the process must be credible, otherwise there will be challenge with regards the acceptance of the result.

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News - Press Release

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In a meeting with senior members of the Sierra Leone Police at the SLP headquarters, on Monday 24th April attended by the Inspector General, Francis Munu, the Head of Police Operations, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) Al-Sheikh Kamara, AIG Memuna Konteh Jalloh, AIG FUK Dabor, among others, the police top brass told members of MSP that they would not be able to provide security for the procession and rally.

The Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu, informed the meeting that they were overstretched with covering the official events, the traditional masquerade (or Odele) parade as well as the Lantern Parade on the eve of Independence.

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Society -Local News

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Ms. Carlton-Hanciles pointed out thatHon. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara has served as keynote speaker in all the launches the Board has had around the country. He noted that the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice is the supervisory ministry for the Legal Aid Board and further underlined the importance of having the holder of the office at such events in terms of availing himself with the challenges ordinary people face in accessing the justice system. More importantly, it provides an opportunity for these issues to be discussed by the cabinet.

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Development

LAB wants transports to allocate seats to the blind

The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has disclosed plans to launch a White Cane Campaign in the coming weeks.

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles made the disclosure while addressing a cross section of the Waterloo Community including stakeholders at the District Council Hall on Monday, 24 April 2017 in a meeting to plan the launch of the Legal Aid Board in Waterloo in the WesternArea Rural District on 6 May 2017.

She noted that the campaign will seek to address the challenges faced by blind people in using public transport. ‘Blind people have been suffering in silence for far too long,’ she said. ‘They have been discriminated against because of their disability and this cannot be tolerated.’

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Politics

SAM SUMANA TRAVELS TO GHANA ON "EMERGENCY TRAVEL CERTIFICATE"
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