Category: Events


Launch of New Kono Office

June 23rd, 2015 — 5:45am

AdvocAid Launches New Kono Office To Reach More Women in Need of Free Legal Aid

Friday 19 June: Today, AdvocAid held the official opening for their new regional Kono Office from which they’ll provide targeted legal support to girls and women in conflict with the law. This is the second regional office they have opened since May 2015, thanks to the generous support of donors recognising a need to increase visibility and stability of free legal aid for women in Sierra Leone.

The Kono office is being funded by the International Women’s Programme of the Open Society Initiative (OSI) whilst the European Union and British Council under the Justice Matters: Strengthening the Rights of Women and Girls project are co-funding by supporting personnel running costs.

AdvocAid, founded in 2006, are a legal aid organisation providing free legal assistance, representation and education to girls and women in Sierra Leone. They have had an informal presence in Kono since 2012 through the retained services of Lawyer Festus B. Conteh of Lacawi and more recently in 2014 through the services of their Paralegal Sidi Sowa and Duty Counsel Lawyer A B Samura.

The opening of the official office will greatly strengthen AdvocAid’s outreach and Legal Aid programme along with prioritising and building vital visibility for women in conflict with the law in the region.

AdvocAid Executive Director, Simitie Lavaly, said at the official launch: “We are delighted to be able to officially launch our Kono office and have a firm presence here in the East of the country. The women of Kono have been crying out that they need more legal services to assist them with problems they face in this remote part of Sierra Leone. Thankfully with the combined support of Open Society Initiative, British Council and EU, together we can ensure girls and women here and in the surrounding communities can have access to critical free legal-aid, welfare support and education around their legal rights. The opening of this new regional office is a positive step in reaching more women in conflict with the law.”

The launch event was attended by over 60 people including former detainees supported by AdvocAid, criminal justice institutions, partner legal and human rights organisations, AdvocAid staff and the Sierra Leone British Council Country Director, Simon Ingram-Hill.

Mr Ingram-Hill stated: “It is vitally important that as Sierra Leone emerges from the end of a very difficult 12 month period, that we have firm foundations to move forward, grow and develop from. One area that the British Council is committed to supporting, is that of protecting the rights of girls, women and their children in Sierra Leone. By enabling AdvocAid to have a permanent presence here in Kono, together with the EU and OSI, we can ensure that vulnerable girls and women are not only provided with free access to legal aid, but that they are educated about their rights, and empowered to assert them.”

There are currently not more than seven resident lawyers in the provinces for a population of 4.3 million people (80% of the population) making additional legal services absolutely critical. Free legal advice and representation is an effective way of addressing barriers that populations experiencing marginalization and poverty often face in trying to access the justice system.

The new office is located at 43 Old Yengema Road, Koidu Town in Kono District and will be open Monday to Friday, 9 am – 4.30 pm. Any women in need of legal advice, assistance or representation should contact the office on  +232 77 077 620/ +232 76 428 441.

—ENDS—

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10 Reasons Sierra Leone Should End the Death Penalty

October 10th, 2012 — 5:36am

10 October 2012 marks World Day Against the Death Penalty

  1. The TRC recommended that Sierra Leone abolish the death penalty.
    “Respect for human dignity and human rights must begin with respect for human life. Everyone has the right to life. A society that accords the highest respect for human life is unlikely to turn on itself.”
  2. The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which considered cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, did not have the power to impose the death penalty. The death penalty should be abolished as otherwise ordinary citizens are treated more harshly than convicted war criminals.
  3. Many countries across the world have abolished the death penalty: 141 countries are abolitionist in law or practice.
  4. Countries with similar histories of civil conflict, such as Liberia, Rwanda and Burundi, have abolished the death penalty.
  5. The death penalty is a violation of various international human rights standards.
  6. The deterrent effect of the death penalty has never been conclusively proven. A 2009 survey of US criminologists revealed that over 88% believed the death penalty was not a deterrent to murder.
  7. The death penalty is irrevocable. No justice system is perfect. Innocent people could, therefore, be sentenced to death. For example, AdvocAid has conducted successful appeals for two women on death row whose convictions were overturned. But limited legal aid services mean that many more innocent people could be sentenced to death.
  8. The death penalty is unfair. It is often used disproportionally against the poor, mentally ill and those who are unaware of their legal rights.
  9. Constitutional Courts in Uganda and Kenya have held that the mandatory death sentence for certain crimes is unconstitutional as it does not allow judges to take into account the individual mitigating circumstances of individuals. In Sierra Leone, the death penalty is mandatory for murder. A judge, therefore, has no choice and cannot impose any other sentence in such cases.
  10. In 2011 the Government issued an official moratorium on all executions. This hugely significant step was applauded by civil society and the international community. The next step must be to abolish the death penalty completely in law and practice.

AdvocAid is a civil society organisation which provides access to justice and strengthened rights for girls and women in conflict with the law. We have provided legal representation for several girls and women on death row as well as welfare, rehabilitation and after care services. For more information, please visit www.advocaidsl.com or our Head Office, 1st Floor, 39 Liverpool Street, Freetown, 033 572526.

 

1 comment » | Advocacy, Blogs, Death Penalty, Events

AdvocAid presents at the International Human Rights Funders Group Conference

January 29th, 2012 — 3:08am

AdvocAid was part of a panel at the International Human Rights Funders Group Conference this week in San Francisco. The panel was entitled “Flourish or Wilt? Taking Stock of Women’s Human Rights in an Era of Revolutionary Political Change” and we presented alongside courageous women activists from Egypt, Tunisia and Kazakhstan.

We are very grateful to Mama Cash for this opportunity.

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Monitoring Trip to Makeni

January 18th, 2012 — 10:36pm

AdvocAid’s Executive Director and Legal Officer paid a visit to Makeni to monitor and support the work of our Makeni paralegal, Victoria Koroma, who is based with Access to Justice Makeni.

We paid visits to the Courts and met with police, State Counsel and the newly transferred High Court Judge. We also visited Makeni Prison, Female Section and distributed welfare items, took detailed statements from the inmates and conducted general prison monitoring. We were able to put up posters concerning the Bangkok Rules, UN Standards for the Treatment of Female Detainees.

Posters explaining the UN Standards for the Treatment of Female Detainees

Simitie Lavaly, Legal Officer, performed a bail application for a young female detainee (a former street girl) which was unfortunately refused due to her lack of family ties and fixed abode.

We were very pleased with Victoria’s work and her impact in Makeni.

Thanks to Open Society Foundations for their support of our work and GIZ who supported creation of the posters. Posters designed by Steph Maylon.

Simitie Lavaly and Victoria Koroma discussing a case

Sabrina and Victoria at Access to Justice Makeni's office

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Celebrating 10 years of Peace

January 18th, 2012 — 3:19am

Today we are celebrating 10 years of peace in Sierra Leone and also remembering all those who suffered during the 11 year long civil war and those who still feel the effects today. Sierra Leone has come a long way since AdvocAid started in 2006 but there are still many challenges, especially for the girls and women we work with.

The Peace Bird (c) Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars

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Christmas Welfare Donations to Women and their Children in Prison

December 18th, 2011 — 3:32am

AdvocAid donated welfare items (such as toiletries) to women and their children in Freetown Female Prison. We gave each woman her own “lappa” (cloth) which can be used for clothing, as a blanket etc

We played some music and shared food, including fruit which is hardly part of the prison diet.

However, our Christmas welfare donations were made more complicated as the female prison population in Freetown had almost doubled due to a police raid on a poor area of town. Thanks to your donations, we just managed to give most women a few welfare items each. We spent the rest of the day taking statements from the women with our Legal Officer, Legal Volunteer and law students.

Comment » | Events, Legal Aid, Welfare

Salone Style Jewellery Sale – 15 December 2011

December 14th, 2011 — 1:29pm

Buy a unique Christmas gift….and feel good about your purchase too!

WHAT: Salone Style Jewellery Sale

WHERE: O Bar (Lumley Beach)

WHEN: Thursday, December 15

TIME:  5:00-8:00pm


Salone Style is a design cooperative that supports a group of women in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Working with disadvantaged women, we aim to empower them with unique skills and a business opportunity.

We are currently training a group of women in the art of jewellery making.

Our first collection is ready just in time for Christmas.

We invite you to view a unique selection of earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

All jewellery is handmade from locally sourced materials.

For more information, visit us at http://www.facebook.com/salonestyle or call 078.887.997

Salone Style is proud to support AdvocAid.

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Skills Based Training for Ex Prisoners: Jewellery Design

November 24th, 2011 — 11:27am

As part of our reintegration programme, we are offering skills based training to female ex prisoners. Our first course focused on jewellery design.

The women were offered a six week course to introduce them to the basics of jewellery design. The course was lead by Rikke Clevin Jensen, a Danish jewellery designer who trained at the Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, and Marisa Zawaki.

Since the course began in October 2011, the women have been busily producing necklaces, earrings and bracelets from locally sourced materials. We will be organising a sale in Freetown for the Christmas season. Details to come soon!

The aim of the jewellery design training is to not only help the ex prisoners reintegrate into society, but to provide them with unique skills and a sustainable business opportunity.

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AdvocAid Finance Officer Undergoes Financial Training with MANGO

October 13th, 2011 — 5:49pm
Our Finance and Admin Officer, Juliana Wilson, is spending the week at a MANGO finance training course thanks to the support of Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI). Helping us to have even better financial systems and accountability to our lovely donors!

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AdvocAid participates in Committee on the Rights of the Child Discussion on Rights of Children of Incarcerated Parents

September 30th, 2011 — 1:56pm

Today the Committee on the Rights of the Child is exploring the rights of ‘children of incarcerated parents’ during its annual Day of Discussion held in Geneva, Switzerland. These children have committed no crime but are deeply affected by their parents’ involvement in the criminal justice system.

Alison Thompson (AdvocAid Director and author of an AdvocAid report on Children Living in Prison with a Parent) is currently in Geneva to contribute to these discussions.

1 comment » | Advocacy, Events, Press Releases

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Head Office: 1st Floor, 39 Liverpool Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone | advocaid@gmail.com | Tel: +232 (0)33 572 526