PNLA – wins an award
Pilot National Legal Aid (PNLA) was established by the Government of Sierra Leone and the Justice Sector Development Programme funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) on January 6th 2010 to provide a sustainable, affordable, credible and accessible legal aid scheme for those living in Sierra Leone who cannot afford to pay for the services of a lawyer.
PNLA’s main focus is to provide advice, assistance and representation, in the criminal justice system at the entry points of prisons, police stations and courts. The majority of people held in our prisons, due to lack of financial resources, have had no access to a lawyer or legal advice and assistance at any stage of their court proceedings, prior to the advent of PNLA. One of the strengths of the scheme is its ability to follow-through on matters from inception at the police station, to court and right the way up to appeals.
PNLA in its effort to assist the poor, vulnerable and the marginalized, focus on women and children and as a result they are automatically granted legal aid and need not go through the required merit test for qualification for legal aid.
In recognition of the advice, assistance and representation PNLA renders to children who come in conflict with the law, PNLA’s pupil barrister Ms HAFFIE HAFFNER on Monday 21st November 2011 won an award as the most outstanding lawyer and Activist on issues relating to child protection in Sierra Leone. The programme was organized by Youth and Child Advocacy Network Sierra Leone (YACAN-SL) in their 5th annual Children’s Creative Contest award ceremony marking the World Day for prevention of Abuse and Violence against children.
PNLA wishes to thank YACAN-SL for recognizing the role PNLA plays in enhancing juvenile justice. PNLA pledges its continued service to providing a voice and an avenue for equality of justice for the poor marginalized and most vulnerable in our society.
In our strife to enhance juvenile justice, we call on other stakeholders to partner with PNLA for the establishment of a safety net programme for accused persons and offenders discharged at court (especially children between 14-17+ and young adults between ages 18-25), for the provision of counselling, rehabilitation/ reformation and reintegration of discharged offenders/accused persons aforesaid, in order to prevent them from committing the same and similar offences or becoming repeat offenders.
PNLA’s records clearly show that huge strides are being made to ensure a solid foundation for a national legal aid scheme that will benefit poor Sierra Leoneans and the office strives to continue to live up to its Motto: “Opening the Doors to Justice”Pilot National Legal Aid 4th Floor Ministerial Building 078-200204, 078- 200205
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