OPERATIVE LEGAL AID: AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ACCESS TO JUSTICE Part: 1
Written by BANKOLE CLIFFORD EKUNDAYO MORGAN, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE.
Wednesday, 22 March 2017 21:28
(The thoughts expressed in this article are purely and entirely those of the author)
In every state, the justice system can be properly evaluated based on the manner in which the poor and vulnerable people do access justice. Effective administration of justice is the cornerstone of good governance, rule of law and human rights. The enjoyment of the right to access to justice and the dispensation of justice in any state must not stand on political influence or affluent. It is prejudicialto discriminate against the poor and vulnerable persons wanting to access justice.
The justice system of any state must not be operating in a way that the poor and vulnerable are discriminated against due to their inability to hire the services of legal practitioners. The right to access to justice essentially is one of the fundamental human rights. In my view, Justice surpasses the boundaries of a single legal system. In actual fact, Justice is a virtue and in essence, it is more than a sector and even more than a power. The right to access to justice is one of the most important human rights and it is conceived as both a means and an end to justice.
LEGAL AID SYSTEM
Establishing a legal Aid system in any state is one way by which the government can provide for the poor and vulnerable people to enable them have access to justice. Legal aid is a medium by which the poor and vulnerable people in society will enjoy the right to access to justice without any limitation. It is obvious that without an effective and or operative legal system, the poor and vulnerable people will continue to wallow in despair by facing huge challenges in accessing justice. Access to justice is a human right which ought to be protected by law and guaranteed by the state. When a state fails to create the enabling environment for the promotion and protection of fundamentalhuman rights, those rights will definitely become meaningless. The fact is access to justice is a germane component of the Rule of Law.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE CAN BE PERCEIVED AS A MEANS AND AN END TO JUSTICE
Access to justice can be perceived as both a means and an end to justice. It is a means as it concerns the efficient method of enabling users of justice system to benefit from the end product of justice. Likewise, it can be perceived as an end, in the protection of an individual’s right to justice through ease of access when the need arises. The lack of access to justice and or the unfair dispensation of justice in any state will ultimately undermine the tenets of good governance, rule of law and human rights.
THE POPULARLY KNOWN PHRASE “RULE OF LAW”
The popularly known phrase “Rule of Law” is frequently used but little explained or understood that no one is above the law. The term ‘rule of law’ can be interpreted as the restriction of arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established rules or guidelines. Effective legal aid has undoubtedly been deemed one of the most important aspects of access to justice. The fight in the promotion and protection of the right to access to justice must not be hindered by anyone. This means public officials, rule of law and development advocates are therefore energized to implement new strategies to ensure that the right to access to justice is constructively promoted and protected. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that this very important Rule of Law guarantee is not sacrificed due to other factors like unavailability of funds.
FINANCING AN EFFECTIVE LEGAL AID SHOULD BE OF PRIORITY TO GOVERNMENT
The plain truth is that for a Legal Aid scheme to function effectively, government must in the first place aware of the fact thatthere are huge number ofmembers of the public likethe poor and vulnerable ones who are suffering in accessing justice. Secondly, government must have passion for these people, and thirdly, government must be committed in providing consistent and adequate funding to the Legal Aid Board. It is an established fact that operative legal aid has undoubtedly been deemed the most important aspect of access to justice. In developing and developed countries, financing of an effective legal aid program is of priority to governments.A central reasoning is that the extent to which legality is valued, facilitated and guaranteed by the treatment of the necessary components is a determinant of whether the said components work to make legal aid systems effective.
LEGAL AID SYSTEM OUGHT TO BE SUSTAINABLE AND DEMAND-ORIENTED
The point is made that effectiveness of law, being a cognitive institution, requires that the legal aid system is sustainable and demand-oriented, being targeted at the needs of the most needy “rights-holders” and constantly being monitored and evaluated, albeit avoiding bureaucracy. The legal aid service should be comparable to paid legal services and be aimed at client-satisfaction or high clients’ approval. Where possible, it should facilitate diversion from litigation to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), to save the poor and vulnerable people from the challenges faced in courts and the strain on public funds.A few examples of the kinds of cases which have traditionally qualified for legal aid include: when someone with dementia is facing eviction and cannot fight the case against their local authority by themselves; when a victim of domestic violence needs to ensure safety for themselves (and in many cases also their children); and when someone has been accused of committing a crime.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE IS A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT
Access to justice as a fundamental human right and it can be render meaningless if government does not create the enabling environment for the poor and the vulnerable ones to enjoy it without any discrimination. Legal aid is essential to guaranteeing equal access to justice for the poor and the vulnerable people in society.Normally, laws have been known to exist and the essence for that is to regulate human behaviour. Law regulates society and sets standards by which the rights of every individual or creature, their person or property are respected promoted and protected. Sierra Leone as a state is a member of the world community and being such must be governed by certain rules which ensure that society operate regularly like other members of the global community. From that we observe that the law itself forms a social instrument which acts as a lubricating oil for the effectiveness of society. Therefore, an effective and operative legal aid system is an important aspect of access to justice.Conclusively,establishing a legal Aid system in any state is one way by which the government can provide for the poor and vulnerable people to enable them have access to justice
2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul
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.
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.
The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.
The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.
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.
(The thoughts expressed in this article are purely and entirely the thoughts of the author)
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.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Thursday 20th April 2017 unanimously voted for the deferment of debate on the Bill entitled “The Finance Act 2017”, pending a pre-legislative briefing and that it should be piloted by the substantive Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo.
Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Minority Leader of the House who moved the motion explained the importance of the Finance Bill that it provides for the sources of revenue for Government in respect of taxation. She furthered that the pre-legislative hearing will clearly explain the reductions, additions, and significant changes that have been included in the Finance Act of 2017 to Members of Parliament, who will better articulate issues connected thereto during the course of the debate.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, SBB Dumbuya said that “judging from the significance of the Bill, it should be preceded by a pre-legislative briefing” as per the dictates of parliamentary practices and procedures.
On Sunday 26 March 2017, three very close family members were 'laid to rest' at a Thanksgiving and Memorial service held at the King Memorial United Methodist Church in Freetown. That service celebrated memories of the following family members: Mrs Lydia Sesay nee Yormah (my elder sister), her son Rtd. Captain Alimamy Sesay, and Madame Gbonu Yormah nee Gbloh.
Although these departed loved ones had died and were interred several years ago in my absence that thanksgiving service enabled me to truly emotionally connect with their demise. For one of the deceased the circumstances of his death did not permit us to give him a fitting funeral so to me that service served as his fitting, albeit belated, funeral service. That event has now freed me from the encumbrances that had prevented me for almost 19 years to put my thoughts about his demise on paper. This piece therefore serves as a tribute to his memory.
PRESS RELEASE: Rural Renewable Energy Project Conducts Installation Training
FREETOWN, 19 April 2017: UNOPS Sierra Leone is hosting a training for selected installation companies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, the President’s Recovery Priorities (PRP) programme and United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID – also known as ‘UK Aid’).
The theoretical aspect of the training runs from 18th to 20thApril at the Golden Tulip Hotel, followed by 14 days of on-the-job sessionsin Petifu and Conakry Dee communities, in Port Loko District.ASACO, the supplier of the solar equipment, is providing the training facilitators and installation tools.
Participants are mainly Sierra Leonean engineers from Barefoot Women Solar Engineers Association (BWSEA),Frontier Business Solutions (FBS) and APTECH Africa Limited. Training contents include, photovoltaic (PV) system basics, types of solar systems, arrays and connections, project safety and guidance on using the installation checklists.
Former elected Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana left Freetown International Airport, Lungi late afternoon Wednesday April 19, 2017 onboard Kenya Airways on an "Emergency Travel Certificate", en route to Abuja, Nigeria on or about April 23/24, 2017 for the hearing of his petition filed on October 24, 2016 in the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, "seeking an enforcement of his fundamental Human Rights arising from his unconstitutional removal from office, and for further orders contained in the application."
"This matter has been set down for hearing by the Court for April 26, 2017."
According to a spokesman for the Sam Sumana family Matthias Bendu who was with Sam Sumana at the airport until the aircraft was airborne because of advanced information reaching the family that there would be some problem awaiting Sam Sumana at the airport, Matthias Bendu told this Writer on the cellphone from the airport that Sam Sumana "was detained by Immigration Officers at the airport for more than thirty minutes after the aircraft landed, and it was due to the intervention of the Inspector General of Police Francis Munu who told the immigration Officers that Sam Sumana had not committed any crime and must be allowed to travel".