Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – AdvocAid, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free, comprehensive legal aid for girls and women in conflict with the law in Sierra Leone, recently conducted a impactful legal outreach in Looking Town Community, Kissy, Freetown.
Led by Project Officer Fatamta L. Bah, AdvocAid reiterated its commitment to offering women essential legal insights. The focus extended to understanding one’s rights when dealing with the law, addressing prevalent issues like gender-based violence to foster a more informed and empowered community.
Ayo Max-Dixon, a paralegal from AdvocAid, played a pivotal role in the outreach, emphasizing key principles when interacting with law enforcement. Max-Dixon highlighted the importance of a thorough process, urging women to fully comprehend statements before signing and reinforcing the right to refuse if understanding is lacking. He also outlined specific time constraints for police custody based on the severity of individual cases.
The paralegal underscored the significance of legal representation, both at the police station and in court. Ensuring women were well-informed about their rights to basic needs while in custody, he asserted that no police officer should exploit them, emphasizing the right to have witnesses present.
The outreach concluded with testimonies from two representatives of Go Bifo women who bravely shared the harsh realities of their prison experiences. Their firsthand insights provided a narrative of the challenges faced by individuals within the criminal justice system. Encouraging residents to maintain peace, the women also urged them to show care and support to formerly incarcerated women and their children as they are integral members of the community.
Residents expressed that these stories served as a touching reminder of the challenges within the criminal justice system, fueling their determination to actively seek legal knowledge and advocate for best practices within their community. They voiced a collective determination to embrace heightened legal awareness.
Chief Imam Abdulla Sehri, representing the community, expressed gratitude for AdvocAid’s commitment. He lauded the organization’s efforts in fostering a culture of empowerment and understanding beyond specific occasions, recognizing the crucial role legal awareness plays in safeguarding individual rights and creating a more informed and empowered community. PSN/16/11/2023