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President Koroma receives Ombudsman’s Annual Report

President Koroma receives Ombudsman’s Annual Report

President Ernest Bai Koroma has urged the Ombudsman, Justice Edmund Cowan, together with other officials in his office, to change people’s perceptions about their office by embarking on a mass sensitization on its role and importance in the democratic process.

Speaking at State House after Justice Cowan’s presentation of his 2008-2009 annual report today, President Koroma noted that the Ombudsman should not be seen as an intruder into the activities of public offices; that such a perception exists, the President stated, means there’s need for heightened sensitization.

President Koroma thanked the Ombudsman and staff for hard work and professionalism, stating that the increase in the number of complaints being referred to their office is an indication of their commitment to duty, while he called on them to continue to strive for excellence and integrity. He also commended them for having established provincial offices in a bid to enhance their capacity and range.

Presenting the report earlier, Justice Cowan thanked the President for personal and official support to the Ombudsman and for the granted opportunity to present a report on his activities since taking up office in March 2008. He informed the Head of State that the Justice Sector for Development Programme (JSDP) provided them with furniture and equipment, together with additional support on the development of a strategic plan covering 2009-2013, which attracted stakeholders including civil society organisations. He said the plan has five objectives, namely, awareness raising, accessibility, capacity building, resource mobilization and networking with institutions with similar objectives.

According to Justice Cowan, his office received 73 complaints in 2008, 203 in 2009 and, outside of the report, 114 complaints have been recorded in the first five months of 2010, while stating that most of the complaints, covering a wide range of areas, are mostly coming from ordinary people.

He acknowledged receiving cooperation from some ministries and institutions, though some of them look at the office as an intruder in their domain. However, he noted that plans are underway with the support of parliamentarians to adequately sensitize the general public, while informing the President that branches have been opened in Makeni, Bo and Kenema.

After accepting the report, President Koroma stated that it will be laid before the House of Parliament.

Justice Cowan was accompanied by some members of staff of his office.

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