The Legal Aid Board has completed a five-day UNICEF-funded capacity building training on child sensitive justice services to children in contact with the law for Administrators of Local Court.
The training was conducted in five locations in the country with the first in the city of Bo on 6 December 2021. This was then followed by series of others in Kenema on December 7; Kono on December 9; Makeni on 10 and Port Loko on December 11 respectively.
This is aimed at capacitating the Local Court Administrators on the Local Court Act 2011, Child Rights Act 2007, Customary Law and Practices and Interpretation of same, Traditional/Informal Justice Mechanisms and the provision of justice services to children in contact with the law. The Resource Persons were drawn from Legal Aid Board.
In his opening remarks in Bo City, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Manager of the Board, Mr. Sallu Jusu said the trainings will target a total of 168 participants drawn from fourteen of the country’s sixteen districts. He noted that Western Area Urban and Western Area Districts will not included in the training. He added that participants will comprise Court Chairmen, Court Clerks; Native Authority (NA) Officers and Assessors.
The three Regional Programme Managers and Legal Aid Counsels presented papers on the primary goal of Local Courts, their jurisdiction, limitations, cases they can hear and determine and those that they cannot hear and determine. Other areas covered include: definition of a child, rights and responsibilities of children as provided in the Child Rights Act 2007; customary rules and practices, referral pathways; diversion process; pre-requisite and eligibility for diversion and offences to consider for diversion.
The participants discussed challenges in relation to cases involving children in civil or criminal proceedings, referrals, Appeals, children caught up in divorce and children affected by inheritance.
Participants were also schooled on data collection tools and case-log forms which will inform policy makers and researchers on the types and frequency of cases involving children handled by the Local Court.
The training was climaxed with question and answer session.