This was how the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles welcomed the new Sign Language Interpreter, Fatu Kamara who had paid a visit to the Legal Aid Board office in Freetown to say ‘Thank You’ for facilitating her recruitment into the Sierra Leone Police Force.
Fatu was one of two members of the Deaf and Dumb Association recruited into the Sierra Leone Police following an appeal from the Legal Aid Board. The appeal was made at a meeting between the Sierra Leone Police and representative of the Deaf and Dumb Association on 4 May 2017. The meeting was facilitated by the Legal Aid Board.
Making the case for recruitment at the meeting, Ms. Carlton-Hanciles told the out-gone Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu and other senior offices of the Force that a Sign Language Interpreter will enable the police to cater for the justice needs of people with special needs. ‘The Sierra Leone Police is not trained on how to handle people with special needs, recruiting Fatu Kamara is therefore crucial in catering for the justice needs of this group,’ she said.
The Legal Aid Board also got the Sierra Leone Police not to press charges against three members of the deaf and dumb who were being investigated for allegedly violating the ban on trading on Sundays and assaulting a police officer. ‘I want to thank the outgone Inspector General of Police, Francis Munu for reasoning with us on this issue,’ she said.
The Board also secured a concession that will allow the deaf and dumb to trade on Sundays. Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said the concession will help the Deaf and Dumb to take care of themselves so that they would not have to resort to begging for a living.
Prior to the meeting, the Board had provided legal assistance to three suspects from the Deaf and Dumb Association – Ibrahim Kamara, Mohamed Kargbo and Mohamed Saidu Jalloh – who were arrested at PZ/Abacha Street in the Central Business District on the 16 April by police officers from the Victoria Park Post.
The Deaf and Dumb persons clashed with the police who were trying to enforce the ban on street trading on Sundays. The confrontation between the two resulted in the alleged assault on one Assistant Superintendent (ASP) of Police Victoria Sesay.
When the matter was brought to the attention of the Legal Aid Board, Fatu Kamara stepped in voluntarily as a sign language interpreter to facilitate communication between the Board and the three suspects. ‘We were so impressed with her that we decided to recommend her for recruitment into the Police Force,’ she said. ‘We believe the clashes between the two could have been mitigated if they were able to communicate with each other.’