October 2, 2022

The Legal Aid Board (LAB) has provided representation to all accused tried at the Special Criminal Session Holden in Magburaka town, which was presided over by Honourable Justice Aiah Simeon Alieu.

The Session started on Monday 12th October 2020 and ended on Saturday 31st October 2020, following the addition of another one-week to its initial two-week calendar. The week long extension, according to court sources, was made due to the high number of cases scheduled for trial during the said Session.

Of the total number of 80 cases, on the district’s criminal calendar scheduled for trial during the aforesaid period, 34 were completed while a total of 46 were still pending. The 34 completed matters include 7 sexual penetration cases, 5 manslaughter matters, 6 murder matters, 6 wounding with intent cases and 10 larceny cases. Of this number, 32 were convicted and sentenced on various prison terms, including life imprisonment and death by hanging for those found guilty on murder charges.

In all, the LAB lawyers, Mohamed Korie and Ibrahim Samba, who also double as the Board’s National Supervisor  and LAB’s counsel for Bombali, Tonkolili, Koinadugu, Falaba and Karene districts, respectively, succeeded in securing one acquittal, one discharge and five murder matters reduced to manslaughter.

Addressing the LAB lawyers, on the issue of sexual penetration and murder, which accounted for 15% and 12%, respectively, of the total number of cases scheduled for trial during the aforesaid period, the presiding judge, Justice Aiah Simeon Alieu, called on the Board to not only stop at public defence for indigent persons but to also increase its public education, especially on issues bordering on sexual penetration, rape, domestic violence and other felonious offences in the district. He said, bearing in mind that Tonkolili is one of the largest districts in the country, if not the largest by virtue of the number of its chiefdoms, it is prudent that LAB engage its inhabitants so as to minimize the high trend of sexual and murder incidents in the district before the next Special Criminal Session.

On her part, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board (LAB), Mrs. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles, said the Board is determined to continue with its mass public education events the moment the Coronavirus becomes a thing of the past. She warned the public to be mindful of their activities and to desist from unlawful acts.

Mrs. Carlton-Hanciles called on men to be the protectors of women, especially those below the age of consent (18 years), noting that the Board will not be providing representation to recidivists no matter their vulnerability. She also warned teenage boys to be mindful of the Sexual Offences Act of 2012, as amended, stating that the law is not a respecter of age.

She thanked the Board’s lawyers, including those in Freetown and other places, for their steadfastness and commitment to work, adding that legal aid work is humanitarian work and whosoever involves in it will surely be blessed by God.