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LAB call for reintegration to avoid election violence PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joseph Dumbuya   
Thursday, 23 February 2017 21:19

‘In the absence of a thorough reintegration, our former clients in and those returning into mainstream society will become ready prey for selfish politicians in this election year,’ the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has warned.

The warning came in the wake of an interview with the President of the Sierra Leone Motor Drivers and General Transport Workers Union, Alpha Amadu Bah granted to the Concord Times Newspaper in which he is quoted as saying that ‘over 700 drivers released from prisons through the intervention of the Legal Aid Board were still hanging around the union’s offices searching for jobs.’

‘Our mandate is to provide legal services, legal education and accredit legal aid providers,’ Ms. Carlton-Hanciles noted. ‘The reintegration of former clients of the Board who had served time in prison is not part of our mandate. This notwithstanding, we introduced a reintegration progamme in September 2016 and have been able to find jobs in agriculture for thirty (30) former clients through the Sierra Leone Farmers Federation.

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles lamented that when former clients have law and order issues, people blame the Board and not the agencies that are responsible for their reintegration into mainstream society.

She disclosed that her organization has identified the Sierra Leone Union of Photographers (SLUP) and the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) to train prison inmates in different skills including photography but donors have not stepped up despite the efforts of the Board.  ‘The Sierra Leone Union of Photographers sent in a proposal with a budget of $25,000 to train prison inmates in photography, six months down the line we are struggling to find a donor.’

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles has called on government, the donor community and civil society including the National Election Watch (NEW)to invest into reintegrating former prison inmates. ‘NEW has got money to monitor the elections, we hope part of the money is spent on acceptance of former prison inmates because this is a serious challenge,’ she said. ‘Rejecting them will play into the hands of those who want to use them as thugs.’

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles has disclosed that the Board’s legal education will focus on helping former clients stay out of trouble through civic education. This would include rights and responsibilities of citizens, complaint mechanisms in the community and Rule of Law. ‘We will ensure former prison inmates know where to lodge a complaint if they feel aggrieved,’ she said. ‘We will also ensure that the justice system in the community provide justice in a fair and speedy manner.’

 

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