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LAB opens 3 Citizens Advisory Bureaus

LAB opens 3 Citizens Advisory Bureaus

The Legal Aid Board took the final step towards operationalizing the Citizens Advisory Bureau (CAB) by organizing a one-day training workshop for sixty volunteers at the Lumley Community Center in an area called Grassfield in the West of the capital.

The volunteers will be running the Bureaus in three Wards – 391, 393 and 394 – covering Pipeline, Thompson Bay, UN Drive, Scan Drive, Caningo, Sheriff Drive, Wilkinson Road and Grassfield in Lumley under the supervision of the Legal Aid Board.

Opening the training session, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles drew attention to the many inmates in our Correctional Centers who are not supposed to be there. She said the Bureaus will be providing a solution to this problem by resolving minor offences and disputes in the community so that they are not taken to the police or the courts.

She urged the volunteers to be fair in mediating complaints. ‘Being fair should be your guiding principle,’ Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said. ‘You will achieve quite a lot and command a lot of respect in the community because you will stand for the truth.’

Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said the volunteers should be respectful to those visiting the Bureaus. ‘The first thing you should do is to calm down your visitors and make sure you listen to their every word,’ she said. ‘Matters which fall outside your remit should be referred to the relevant institution. This could be the police, the courts, Legal Aid Board or the Ministry of Lands among others.’

She said the Board will provide legal assistance to indigent clients referred to the Industrial court. She urged the volunteers to believe in themselves noting that they should not be afraid to stand up for what is right. She said they should be prepared to receive complaints from unlikely sources like high profile people in society.

The Community Outreach Officer, Ben Turay explained the Bye-Laws for the Bureaus. He noted that those running the Bureau should not have a criminal record. In addition, they should have a wealth of experience on community issues and in their respective fields of study.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Board, Sallu Jusu underscored the importance of quality reporting in evaluating the work of the Bureau. He explained the various forms that should be filled out by the volunteers. This includes the Referral and Maintenance Agreement Form.

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