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Human Rights Commission holds two day confab

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone yesterday started a two- day National Conference on the theme: Advancing Legal Aid for Women’s Rights in Commemoration of International Human Rights Day on December 10.
The programme was organized with support from Open Society Initiative and International Women’s Programme.
The programme which was held at the YWCA Old Hall attracted civil society organizations including, 50/ 50 group, RSLAF, Prison Watch and the Ombudsman.
In giving the purpose of the conference, Commissioner Jamestina King said that ”the high number of women and girls’ complaints in the Human Right Commission is enormous and these complainants could not afford legal fees.”
Statements were made by representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Minister of Public and Political Affairs and representative from the Pilot National Legal Aid.
In her key note address on the topic: ‘exploring new approaches to legal aid and assistance for women’, the Executive Director of Advocaid, Ms Sabrina Mahtani, ”firstly stressed the need to prioritize legal aid for all categories of women and said she is extremely pleased that the Human Rights Commission has approached the issue with a broad and inclusive perspective.”
She further said that ”if we want to truly advance justice for women then we need to consider the vast range of problems experienced by women, including those in the minority and those who do not fit within our strict definitions of victims.”
She also stated that ”without education, awareness of rights and decision making power, women are often unable to claim their rights, obtain legal aid or go to court, education and awareness of rights are pre conditions for women to access justice, also the need for information for women about where to access services in order to prevent and obtain recourse for rights abuses,” She concluded.
The conference ends today.
By Nancy Koroma

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