Wednesday, 22 March 2017

LAB calls for closer cooperation with prisons

The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has called for closer cooperation with the Sierra Leone Correctional Service to promote access to justice for children.
‘The Correctional Service officers need to share information with our Paralegals regarding children in their custody so that we can provide them legal assistance,’ she said. ‘We wouldn’t know if the information is not made available to us because we do not expect children to be kept in correctional centers meant for adults.’
Ms. Calton-Hanciles made the call following the decision of the Correctional Service authorities in Kono not to admit children into the adult correctional center. This means child suspects refused bail will now have to be transported to Bo or Freetown, the only places with a remand home in the country.Ms. Calton-Hancileswant those in other centers around the country to follow suit.
Ms. Calton-Hanciles said that unlike adults who are subjected to the ‘Means Test’, children benefit from the scheme without any precondition. ‘Those kept in remand homes have benefited from the Board without any delay because our paralegals visits the homes regularly and inform the Juvenile Lawyer who represents them in court.’
The Board has incorporated peace messages into its school outreach programmes.     These messages will empower children so that they are not used by unscrupulous politicians to wreck violence. This includes things to watch out for to avoid being used. This includes free alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Also, those who are below eighteen should not attend rallies, while those who are above eighteen should attend small rallies during the day. 
Ms. Calton-Hanciles also disclosed that the Board will be providing legal assistance to children involved in election related violence and therefore want to have the Correctional Service officers on board to provide information as and when children are arrested.

Also, the Board will be contributing towards a violent free election through its community and school outreach programmes. Already, the Board has instructed the eleven newly established Community Advisory Bureaus to organize outreach programmes geared towards ensuring peaceful elections. 

Sierra Leone Launches UN Security Resolution On Youth, Peace and Security


Sierra Launches UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security

On 28 February 2017, the Youth Partnership for Peace and Development (YPPD) in Sierra Leone in close partnership with the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding organized a launch event of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, to honor this landmark resolution in an official ceremony. The Resolution was officially launched by Anthony A. Koroma, Commissioner, National Youth Commission. The event brought together well over one hundred and twenty representatives from the government, civil society organizations, youth activists, academics, some CSPPS members such as Cordaid, Search for Common Ground, United Network of Young Peacebuilders, as well as UN agencies, such as UNDP to discuss challenges and opportunities for greater youth engagement in the country's future. CSPPS was represented in this meeting by Peter van Sluijs, Coordinator of the CSPPS Secretariat and Senior Strategist at Cordaid.
Being on the crossroads since the country's civil war, Sierra Leone has had several processes unfolding as part of repositioning her place on the global and governance stages. While most of these processes are looked at as key opportunities for holistic growth and engagement, a lot seems disconnected as to answering questions like how central young people are in seeking joint and collective solutions to dealing with major drivers of conflicts, violence and fragility in general. Launching the UNSCR 2250 is a significant bold step in not only raising the profile and meaningful involvement of youth in peace and security, but further generating wider policy and stakeholder interest while building on commitments to solidify structures for holistic engagement with young people for a peaceful Sierra Leone.

Going beyond the launch, it is obvious that the debate no longer centers on how critical young people are when it comes to peacebuilding, conflict prevention and violent extremism; but rather how we are collectively answering the very question of what differently we can do for them (youth) to take the center stage in building and consolidating Sierra Leone's hard-earned peace. While acknowledging government of Sierra Leone's efforts in putting the necessary regulatory and institutional frameworks, it is our hope that the national launch of the Resolution will be an opportunity to doing more, particularly in harnessing the very demographic dividend that youth presents.
The launch further serve as a significant step in setting up an Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Youth Peace and Security in Sierra Leone and by extension, the very significant beginning to cushioning rising election tensions emanating in the lead up to the 2018 national polls. The wider CSPPS Country team in Sierra Leone has actively supported the event and will ensure follow-up in context of their work on New Deal and PSGs, but also as part of the overall national effort in placing youth at the center of peacebuilding and statebuilding.
Chaired by Prof. Memunatu Pratt, Head of Department, Peace and Conflict Studies at the Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, the Launch event was concluded with a set of recommendations to governments aimed at attaining the fullest implementation of the UNSC Resolution 2250 and the SDG16 from a Sierra Leonean youth perspective. Some of these key recommendations included:

·         That there is need for forming an Inter-Agency Platform as an immediate post-launch structure that will lead the coordination of UNSCR 2250 at the national level.
·         The urgent need for the Development of a National Program of Action that will serve as road map for the implementation of the Resolution.
·         Active and continuous engagement of state and non-state actors to deliberately mainstream youth into their programming and implementations.
·         Engaging young people to take the lead in preventing conflict and promoting peace in their respective communities.
·         Constant and robust media engagement to raise awareness about the resolution.
Given Sierra Leone's youthful population, it is obvious that we cannot afford to miss the opportunity of leaving youth behind in patters of peacebuilding and their empowerment while building their capacities for development.
"There can be nothing for us without us. On behalf of the young people of Sierra Leone and partners, we welcome the promises, but we urge government to fulfill them and do more", Musa Ansumana Soko, lead convener and Executive Coordinator of Youth Partnership for Peace and Development concludes.


Sierra Leone Launches UN Security Resolution On Youth, Peace and Security


Sierra Launches UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security

On 28 February 2017, the Youth Partnership for Peace and Development (YPPD) in Sierra Leone in close partnership with the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding organized a launch event of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, to honor this landmark resolution in an official ceremony. The Resolution was officially launched by Anthony A. Koroma, Commissioner, National Youth Commission. The event brought together well over one hundred and twenty representatives from the government, civil society organizations, youth activists, academics, some CSPPS members such as Cordaid, Search for Common Ground, United Network of Young Peacebuilders, as well as UN agencies, such as UNDP to discuss challenges and opportunities for greater youth engagement in the country's future. CSPPS was represented in this meeting by Peter van Sluijs, Coordinator of the CSPPS Secretariat and Senior Strategist at Cordaid.
Being on the crossroads since the country's civil war, Sierra Leone has had several processes unfolding as part of repositioning her place on the global and governance stages. While most of these processes are looked at as key opportunities for holistic growth and engagement, a lot seems disconnected as to answering questions like how central young people are in seeking joint and collective solutions to dealing with major drivers of conflicts, violence and fragility in general. Launching the UNSCR 2250 is a significant bold step in not only raising the profile and meaningful involvement of youth in peace and security, but further generating wider policy and stakeholder interest while building on commitments to solidify structures for holistic engagement with young people for a peaceful Sierra Leone.

Going beyond the launch, it is obvious that the debate no longer centers on how critical young people are when it comes to peacebuilding, conflict prevention and violent extremism; but rather how we are collectively answering the very question of what differently we can do for them (youth) to take the center stage in building and consolidating Sierra Leone's hard-earned peace. While acknowledging government of Sierra Leone's efforts in putting the necessary regulatory and institutional frameworks, it is our hope that the national launch of the Resolution will be an opportunity to doing more, particularly in harnessing the very demographic dividend that youth presents.
The launch further serve as a significant step in setting up an Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Youth Peace and Security in Sierra Leone and by extension, the very significant beginning to cushioning rising election tensions emanating in the lead up to the 2018 national polls. The wider CSPPS Country team in Sierra Leone has actively supported the event and will ensure follow-up in context of their work on New Deal and PSGs, but also as part of the overall national effort in placing youth at the center of peacebuilding and statebuilding.
Chaired by Prof. Memunatu Pratt, Head of Department, Peace and Conflict Studies at the Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, the Launch event was concluded with a set of recommendations to governments aimed at attaining the fullest implementation of the UNSC Resolution 2250 and the SDG16 from a Sierra Leonean youth perspective. Some of these key recommendations included:

·         That there is need for forming an Inter-Agency Platform as an immediate post-launch structure that will lead the coordination of UNSCR 2250 at the national level.
·         The urgent need for the Development of a National Program of Action that will serve as road map for the implementation of the Resolution.
·         Active and continuous engagement of state and non-state actors to deliberately mainstream youth into their programming and implementations.
·         Engaging young people to take the lead in preventing conflict and promoting peace in their respective communities.
·         Constant and robust media engagement to raise awareness about the resolution.
Given Sierra Leone's youthful population, it is obvious that we cannot afford to miss the opportunity of leaving youth behind in patters of peacebuilding and their empowerment while building their capacities for development.
"There can be nothing for us without us. On behalf of the young people of Sierra Leone and partners, we welcome the promises, but we urge government to fulfill them and do more", Musa Ansumana Soko, lead convener and Executive Coordinator of Youth Partnership for Peace and Development concludes.


Sierra Leone Launches UN Security Resolution On Youth, Peace and Security

Sierra Launches UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security

On 28 February 2017, the Youth Partnership for Peace and Development (YPPD) in Sierra Leone in close partnership with the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding organized a launch event of the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, to honor this landmark resolution in an official ceremony. The Resolution was officially launched by Anthony A. Koroma, Commissioner, National Youth Commission. The event brought together well over one hundred and twenty representatives from the government, civil society organizations, youth activists, academics, some CSPPS members such as Cordaid, Search for Common Ground, United Network of Young Peacebuilders, as well as UN agencies, such as UNDP to discuss challenges and opportunities for greater youth engagement in the country's future. CSPPS was represented in this meeting by Peter van Sluijs, Coordinator of the CSPPS Secretariat and Senior Strategist at Cordaid.
Being on the crossroads since the country's civil war, Sierra Leone has had several processes unfolding as part of repositioning her place on the global and governance stages. While most of these processes are looked at as key opportunities for holistic growth and engagement, a lot seems disconnected as to answering questions like how central young people are in seeking joint and collective solutions to dealing with major drivers of conflicts, violence and fragility in general. Launching the UNSCR 2250 is a significant bold step in not only raising the profile and meaningful involvement of youth in peace and security, but further generating wider policy and stakeholder interest while building on commitments to solidify structures for holistic engagement with young people for a peaceful Sierra Leone.

Going beyond the launch, it is obvious that the debate no longer centers on how critical young people are when it comes to peacebuilding, conflict prevention and violent extremism; but rather how we are collectively answering the very question of what differently we can do for them (youth) to take the center stage in building and consolidating Sierra Leone's hard-earned peace. While acknowledging government of Sierra Leone's efforts in putting the necessary regulatory and institutional frameworks, it is our hope that the national launch of the Resolution will be an opportunity to doing more, particularly in harnessing the very demographic dividend that youth presents.
The launch further serve as a significant step in setting up an Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Youth Peace and Security in Sierra Leone and by extension, the very significant beginning to cushioning rising election tensions emanating in the lead up to the 2018 national polls. The wider CSPPS Country team in Sierra Leone has actively supported the event and will ensure follow-up in context of their work on New Deal and PSGs, but also as part of the overall national effort in placing youth at the center of peacebuilding and statebuilding.
Chaired by Prof. Memunatu Pratt, Head of Department, Peace and Conflict Studies at the Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, the Launch event was concluded with a set of recommendations to governments aimed at attaining the fullest implementation of the UNSC Resolution 2250 and the SDG16 from a Sierra Leonean youth perspective. Some of these key recommendations included:

·         That there is need for forming an Inter-Agency Platform as an immediate post-launch structure that will lead the coordination of UNSCR 2250 at the national level.
·         The urgent need for the Development of a National Program of Action that will serve as road map for the implementation of the Resolution.
·         Active and continuous engagement of state and non-state actors to deliberately mainstream youth into their programming and implementations.
·         Engaging young people to take the lead in preventing conflict and promoting peace in their respective communities.
·         Constant and robust media engagement to raise awareness about the resolution.
Given Sierra Leone's youthful population, it is obvious that we cannot afford to miss the opportunity of leaving youth behind in patters of peacebuilding and their empowerment while building their capacities for development.
"There can be nothing for us without us. On behalf of the young people of Sierra Leone and partners, we welcome the promises, but we urge government to fulfill them and do more", Musa Ansumana Soko, lead convener and Executive Coordinator of Youth Partnership for Peace and Development concludes.


Njala University Students Plan Big Demo Tomorrow

                       Njala University Students Plan Big Demo Tomorrow

Njala University College students are planning a big demonstration tomorrow to express dissatisfaction over the continued strike action staged by their lecturers.

This situation has left the students stranded insofar as their education is concerned. For five months now, they have been out of lecture room as a result.

The seeming inaction by the authorities concerned has left the students with no option but to stage what they refer to as a "peaceful demonstration".

Accordingly, the students plan to direct their demonstration at State House in Freetown and have vowed not to leave there until His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who happens to be the Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, address them on the way forward.

It remains unclear how peaceful and successful the demonstration will be, but what is clear is that the Sierra Leone Police sometime last year placed a stiff ban on all protest actions around State House.

Meanwhile, members of the public have condemned the way and manner in which government has handled the Njala situation thus far.

Legal Aid Board Frees Detainee

LAB secures discharge of ‘violent’ youth
As the Legal Aid Board prepares to provide legal assistance to indigents and children engaged in election related violence, it has successfully secured the discharge of a twenty-five old from Wilberforce in the West of Freetown charged with violence.
The Legal Aid Defence Counsel Hadiru Daboh secured the discharge after drawing the court’s attention to the failure of the complainant to attend court sittings for seven consecutive adjournments. What’s more, the complainant has not furnished the court with any reasons for his absence. Magistrate I.S. Bangura agreed with the Defence Counsel and discharged the matter. He noted that discharge would not stop the prosecution from reinstating the matter in future.
The accused, Alpha Kanu who plied his trade as driver and apprentice at the Wilberforce lorry park got involved in a fight with his boss Michael Aruna in February 2017. He was arrested and taken to the Congo Cross Police station following a complaint by his boss. According to Alpha Kanu, his injuries were ignored by the police even though they were more serious. He spent fifteen days at the Congo police station before the matter was charged to court.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles described the discharge as a test case which has been won.  ‘We will be representing accused charged with election related violence,’ she said. ‘This case has, in some way, prepared us for the task ahead in terms of approach and legal arguments.’

According to Carlton-Hanciles there are lessons to be learned. ‘The complainant is not interested in justice, he is only interested in having the accused locked up which he succeeded in doing,’ she said.  ‘We have too many such cases inour justice system, we have to find a way of punishing those who undermine the justice delivery system in this manner. I have a feeling we will have a lot of such cases in the election period, wherein people take matters which could be resolved in the community to the police to have their opponents lock up. We will be very ruthless with people who use the justice system to witchhunt or punish their opponents.’ 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Canadian Navy and High Commissioner visit Sierra Leone

Royal CDN Navy and High Commissioner visit Sierra Leone
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif
For Immediate Release

Royal Canadian Navy ships and Canadian High Commissioner visit Sierra Leone

For immediate release: On March 19th, 2017, two modern Royal Canadian Navy ships, the HMCS Summerside and Moncton, will berth in the heart of Freetown. The Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels will take part in Neptune Trident 17-01, the overarching Royal Canadian Navy deployment to West Africa, and includes engagements with West African nations to support joint training and foster relationships in the Gulf of Guinea region.

Personnel and crew will also participate in Obangame Express 2017, an at-sea maritime training event led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa. The Maritime Group will work with regional partners to support joint training, which aims to delay, disrupt, or destroy criminal or enemy forces or supplies en route at sea. The operation, Obangame Express 2017, is designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the region. Obangame means "togetherness," and comes from the Fang language of southern Cameroon and other parts of Central Africa.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for the Royal Canadian Navy to work in cooperation with global partners in joint training activities to promote Canada's ability to successfully work together with partners and allies on multinational operations and missions,” said Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of National Defence.

That same theme, Obangame (togetherness), can be applied to the visit of Commanders and crew of Summerside and Moncton as they engage with Government of Sierra Leone officials, girls and boys, orphans, youth, school-going children, men and women of Sierra Leone. Between March 19th and March 25th, the Captain and crews of the Royal Canadian Navy ships will help out and play with children at an orphanage in Cline Town, read to children in Aberdeen and visit historic sites in Freetown. Navy personnel will be joined by Her Excellency, Heather Cameron, the Canadian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, as they continue to demonstrate the togetherness of Canada and Sierra Leone.

This month marks the 225th anniversary of the Nova Scotians arriving from Canada and the establishment of Freetown in 1792. This is likely the oldest contact between Canadians and Sub Saharan Africa, and it is an honour to be in Freetown with two Marine Coastal Defense Ships of the Royal Canadian Navy – both of which have sailed to Freetown from Halifax, Nova Scotia.”

“2017 is also the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, when 4 provinces, including Nova Scotia, voluntarily came together to found a country called Canada. In this 150th year, we are proud to celebrate Canada’s identity; our ethnic, linguistic, cultural and regional diversity; our beautiful environment; and, our rich history and heritage. Our anniversary celebrations focus on the themes of diversity and inclusiveness, reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples, youth engagement and leadership, and the environment.”
H.E. Heather Cameron, High Commissioner of Canada to Sierra Leone.

- 30 -

Background

In 1792, 225 years ago, more than 1,000 former slaves from the U.S. and settlers left the shores of Nova Scotia, Canada, to return to Sierra Leone as free men and women. They settled in the nest along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean beneath the enclave of hills known as “Lion Mountain”. And, in commemoration of their return to West Africa, named their new home, “Freetown”.

Under the British protectorate, they built homes, schools and churches. They named roads, cultivated the soil, traded and built what is now a thriving metropolis. On March 11th, 2017, the Mayor and dignitaries celebrated the founding of Freetown by these same settlers under the majestic Cotton Tree before the historic law courts on Siaka Stevens Street.

And so began the strong, rich relationship between the east coast of Canada and the west coast of Sierra Leone. The ancestors of those freed slaves and settlers blossomed and in 1961 formed the Republic of Sierra Leone, independent of Britain; a sovereign nation under the warm sun along the pristine coastline. In 1961, Canada and Sierra Leone established formal diplomatic relations and the connection between the two countries flourished.

The special affinity between the two countries is reflected today in a positive working relationship, which allows Canada and Sierra Leone to cooperate on a broad spectrum of issues, including the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission. Canada was the 6th largest donor to the UN Peace-Building Fund, pledging $35 million through 2012. This support has included Canadian training, equipment and programs for police and Sierra Leonean peacekeepers. Canada has chaired the Sierra Leone PBC Country configuration since February 2009. Canada was highly involved with the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), which concluded its work in 2013, contributing $18 million over the life of the Court and chairing the Court’s Management Committee, presiding over one of its trial chambers.

Canada was one of the earliest responders to the Ebola crisis, and committed more than $130 million to help address the health, humanitarian and security implications of the crisis in West Africa. In 2014-2015, Canadian development assistance, estimated at $21.73 million for Sierra Leone, essentially targeted humanitarian assistance and health.

Canada also contributed in-kind efforts to end the Ebola outbreak, including the deployment of two rotating mobile laboratories (provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada - PHAC) and lab teams to Sierra Leone from June 2014 to May 2015); support to the deployment of health experts and emergency response personnel to UN agencies in the affected countries; the donation and delivery of more than $18 million worth of items of personal protective equipment to the WHO and, the donation of an experimental vaccine to the WHO. Based on an interim analysis of the vaccine during trials in Guinea, the E-Bov vaccine proved effective in protecting people exposed to Ebola, the vaccine is now being used in Sierra Leone.

In November 2014, Canada launched the “Join the Fight against Ebola” campaign, which led to the recruitment of seven Canadian healthcare workers and the deployment of 58 delegates through the Canadian Red Cross, to help manage existing Ebola Treatment Centres in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea (including 36 delegates who were specifically deployed to support response efforts in Sierra Leone).

From December 2014 to June 2015, the Department of National Defence also deployed Canadian Armed Forces healthcare and support staff to work at the UK’s Kerry Town treatment centre, where they provided medical care to 90 local and international healthcare workers.

Stephen Douglas
Journalist/Media Development Consultant
(currently based in Freetown, Sierra Leone)
Phone: +232 (0) 78 508 995
Skype: stephen.douglas63
"Quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development. It also works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power. For this, journalism must be able to thrive, in an enabling environment in which they can work independently and without undue interference and in conditions of safety."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon