The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara on Friday, 4th March affirmed that the government of President Koroma believes in justice for all and sundry.
He made this statement while he was addressing the Ordehlay Union in his office at Guma Building.
Cladded in purple African outfit that neatly fits his huge stature, JFK, as he is popularly called, marched majestically into the Conference room chanting Yoruba Ojeh songs as he made his way to his seat at the high table.
Applauding the Ordehlay Union for their brilliant initiative to work with the Legal Aid Board, JFK outlined some of the reasons why the government, as a reasonable body came up with the initiative to establish the Legal Aid Board.
The Legal Aid Board, he said, was established by President Ernest Bai Koroma to ensure that justice is accessed by all and sundry in society and to help resolve conflicts at local level without necessarily involving court posits.
“We learnt so much from culture. In those days, secret societies imbibe good culture in our communities, but if we have a violent society we miss those cultural aspects so therefore we need to work together to have a violence-free society to enable us to enjoy those cultural aspect of our lives,” he maintained.
He informed the union that one of the reasons why the board is engaged in public education and outreach programmes was to ensure cooperation of community members and to enlighten the public about the services of the Legal Aid Board, adding that to avoid conflicts and prevent people from going to prison are also some of the reasons for establishing the board.
He furthered with a detailed description of the new system of justice, which he said is a rehabilitation process. The process, he told the union, is a unique type in which the correctional service is embarked on changing the native behaviours in inmates by ensuring that after serving the required prison term, the inmates make their lives resourceful for the betterment of the country as a whole.
Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hancils, Director of the Legal Aid Board, explained to the Ordehlay Union about the high increase in crime rate in the country, pointing out that cultural performances and football matches are some of the event during which crimes are committed.
She informed that the board intends to put measures in place to ensure that when the bans on cultural performances are lifted peace and order are maintained in the society.
“Ninety-eight people were arrested in December for click related activities and we don’t want a repetition of what was perpetrated each time when there are cultural or sporting activities,” Madam Hancils noted.
She maintained that legal education at local level is among the strategies the board is using to help reduce the high crime rate. She noted that the board caters for those who have not been in conflict with the law before and don’t have means of income.
Alhassan Sesay, member of the Ordehlay Union commended the work of the board and thanked the minister for taking time to have a meeting with the union.
Mr. Sesay went on to explain that since the union was established in 1984, it has been engaged in conflict resolution among member groups and was instrumental during the ebola outbreak by making donations of assorted food items to the office of the First Lady.
He assured the minister that the union will remain a responsible organisation and urged him to seek the need to set up a cultural commission for national development.