22 August 2016

Sierra Leone: Legal Aid Demands Support for Ex-Prisoners

Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board, Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has called on the government and other humanitarian organizations to support released prisoners be reintegrated into ordinary everyday life.

Speaking on Friday at Law Officers' conference hall, Guma Building, to mark this year's World Humanitarian Day with the theme 'One Humanity', Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said the day was dedicated to released inmates that have been freed from prisons but finding it difficult to adapt.

"Today is devoted especially to released inmates who have been repatriated around the country and finding it difficult to reintegrate in ordinary everyday life. We want to draw the attention of the general public to the humanitarian needs of these ex-prisoners," she said.

It could be recalled that the sixty-third session of the UN General Assembly decided to designate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day.

This day according to the Executive Director, was a date on which a brutal terrorist attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad in 2003, killed 22 people including UN envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

"The World Humanitarian Day honours those who have lost their lives in humanitarian services and those who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions. The day also seeks to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of the international cooperation in meeting these needs" said Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General.

The Legal Aid boss said the day reminded them about the conflict around the world, especially in the Middle East and part of Africa.

She said Sierra Leone has moved away from the rebel war and that the Legal Aid was one of the institutions that established to correct one of the ills that led to the eleven years brutal war in the country, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"Access to justice was one recommendations of the TRC which the Legal Aid is here to ensure. But we need the government and other humanitarian organizations to reintegrate them so that they would not return to crime," she reiterated.

She noted that the Board was in a bid to scale up access to justice nationwide and lunch a massive campaign to ensure all citizens have access to justice.

"As a board we are doing our best to ensure that those who are going to jail go to jail and those who are to be released are released and reunited with their family," she noted.

She said they currently employed twelve defense council and that they have aided the release of thousands of inmates.

"We are now in six locations across the country. We have 12 defense counsel in Freetown and paralegal across the country," she said.

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