The Sierra Leone Bar Association yesterday held collaborative discussions with the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) on human rights violations.
The Association’s Vice President, Hindolo M. Gevao informed Commissioners and staff of HRCSL that the Bar Association regarded them as critical in the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights in the country.
He said it has been the custom of the Bar Association to be meeting with democratic institutions to enhance their knowledge in those institutions.
Speaking further, Lawyer Gevao said after their interactions with the Prisons Department and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), they found out that it was pertinent for them to partner with the Human Rights Commission to fight for Peoples liberty.
Ag. Chairperson of HRCSL, Jamestina King commended the executives of the Bar Association for ‘waking the sleeping giant’ and stressed that when every institution is viable, the promotion and protection of human rights will have the impact.
She emphasized that HRCSL continues to monitor places of detention and the findings were raised and authorities engaged thereafter. “Advocacy is one key area to reform our laws” she said.
Commissioner Bryma Kebbie urged the Bar Association to be looking at HRCSL’s state of human rights report for them to help in reminding government fulfills its obligations. The Commissioner further advised that human rights should be included in the curriculum at the Law School and that the issue of Preliminary Investigation is a waste of time.
The Executive Secretary of HRCSL, Francess Alghali urged the Bar to pay attention to public interest litigation cases and to also increase the number of female lawyers in their executive.
The Director of Monitoring and Research averred that the Bar Association had not been a pressure group and appealed to them to be objective and persistent in putting government on its toes.
The Western Region Senior Human Rights officer, Cyphas Williams stressed that HRCSL will not succeed without the corporation of Bar Association. He also said the Bar should try to clean up sharp, bent and crooked practices among their colleagues.
The Bar’s Secretary-General, James M. Fornah Sesay assured that they will be reading the state of human rights report from HRCSL and stated that they will be robust on certain governance issues.
Ibrahim Sorie, the Bar Association President recognized that human rights are central to the rule of law a reason he said they were at the Commission. “We are rebranding ourselves and we are hopeful that we starting to turn things around as we will be making our voices heard on certain issues. We will provide leadership and we are going to speak for the ordinary people” he stated.
One critical area where people’s rights are being violated is access to justice which the Bar Association President said they will be working on the legal aid scheme for which they want partnership with HRCSL.
Friday July 18, 2014