Day of the African Child: AdvocAid calls for better child protection in the justice sector

In partnership with:    CHILDREN AND JUVENILES BEHIND BARS – In Sierra Leone’s justice system, children and youth are usually not treated any differently than adults. They often spend excessive time behind bars without charge – considered guilty until proved innocent. Detention is often the first resort for offences committed by children. In late May 2016, AdvocAid’s Executive Director, Simitie Lavaly, visited the remand home for juveniles in Bo on an unannounced monitoring visit. Here she met 21 children under the age of 18 – including one 10-year old boy charged with murder – held in a dark, unmaintained detention facility with poor sanitation facilities and too few mattresses. Two young girls were also detained at the remand home, but there is no gate separating the girls’ and boy’s dormitories and no female member of staff. The remand home is massively under-funded, and staff members stated that they lack the resources to refurbish the facility. The conditions in the Bo Remand Home clearly violate the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules), the United Nation Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules) as well as procedures for child protection outlined in Sierra Leone’s 2007 Child Rights Act and the Children and Young Persons Act 1945. HELP US IMPROVE CHILD JUSTICE – On the Day of the African Child 2016, AdvocAid joins forces with Save the Children to upgrade detention facilities in the Bo Remand Home. We are mobilising our resources and connections to repaint the walls...

AdvocAid Celebrates Independence and 10 Years of Access to Justice

26 April 2016: AdvocAid is celebrating Sierra Leone’s 55th Independence Day with girls, women and staff in the country’s Correctional Centres and Remand Homes, highlighting the continued need since Independence to improve detention conditions for women and girls. AdvocAid staff, alongside representatives from human rights organisations and government institutions, will be visiting Correctional Centres and Remand Homes in Freetown, Makeni, Kono, Kenema, Bo and Port Loko. AdvocAid provides legal aid, legal rights awareness and welfare support to women and girls in conflict with the law in all six towns. The visits will involve the distribution of Ebola prevention materials, celebratory food and recreational games; additionally, at Bo Correctional Centre, AdvocAid will be supporting the rehabilitation of a water well, due to a critical lack of access to water. Although Sierra Leone received the all clear from Ebola on 17 March, there continue to be cases in neighbouring countries, and the Correctional Service must continue to safeguard its inmates and staff from an outbreak. The Ebola prevention materials have been generously funded by a grant from GlobalGiving. As well as celebrating 55 years of independence, these events will commence AdvocAid’s 10 Year Anniversary celebrations. AdvocAid’s Executive Director, Simitie Lavaly, comments: AdvocAid started working with women in prison 10 years ago, so we see today as a day for joint celebration in Sierra Leone – 55 years of Independence, and a decade of working with the Correctional Service to support women and girls in conflict with the law. We are delighted to be sharing this day with the women and girls that we support, as well as our colleagues across the Correctional...

Christmas Welfare Donations to Women and their Children in Prison

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...

Monitoring and Welfare Visit to Bo and Kenema

AdvocAid’s Executive Director, Legal Officer and Volunteer Lawyer spent several days in Bo and Kenema to monitor and support the work of our paralegal in the Easter region. The visit included prison monitoring, distributing key welfare items to women and their children in Bo and Kenema prison as well as legal support and supervision of our paralegal. We also conducted meetings with several key stakeholders such as the police, courts and NGOs in order to strengthen relationships and partner networks.   The visit included two legal education radio programmes, with live call in sessions, conducted by Simitie Lavaly (Legal Officer) on Eastern Radio and SLBC Eastern. Several people called in and the discussions were very lively. Simitie covered issues such as rights when you are arrested, accessing bail and women in prison for debt.   The visit sparked the interest of the Premier News journalist who covered our visit. Click here to read more.     Photos taken by Catherine Seldon (Volunteer Lawyer) Project supported by a grant from Open Society Foundations...