In 2014, AdvocAid was involved in representing a lady called Isatu (name changed to protect her identity) who was standing trial for murder in the Freetown Magistrates Court. Isatu is 22 years old, and has one son.
We first became aware of Isatu’s case when she was detained as a suspect at the Criminal Investigation Department in Freetown on suspicion of the murder of her boyfriend after an argument over his suspected infidelity.
10 days after her arrest, Isatu was charged to court. During these 10 days, her case had made the headlines; pictures of the deceased were splashed all over the newspapers, and sold for profit by picture sellers. We were alarmed to also see that a Women’s Rights organisation even released a press release about Isatu’s alleged action and made an apology to the Men of Sierra Leone for her actions.
This combined media frenzy was heavily compromising Isatu’s right to a fair trial. The interest that had accumulated in her case led to the small Magistrates Court room being filled beyond capacity.
One of AdvocAid’s Duty Counsel Lawyers has represented Isatu since the beginning, despite facing a barrage of criticism from the public and other lawyers who feel Isatu is not entitled to receive any legal representation
Isatu was found guilty and is currently serving her sentence in prison. For AdvocAid, this case was an important example in ensuring women in Sierra Leone receive a fair trial. Without our assistance, she would have been without legal representation, which would have compromised her right to a fair trial – a human right under the Sierra Leone constitution.