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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Community Paralegals: Recognition and Financing Research Brief


This research brief is part of a series that reviews the nature of the work undertaken by community paralegals, and the extent to which that work is recognized or funded by government. In 2012, the Sierra Leonean government adopted a legal aid law that recognizes the role paralegals play in delivering justice services and calls for a…

Technology in Case Management for Legal Empowerment Work

The Engine Room, Open Society Justice Initiative ,

This report reviews how organisations in Indonesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Sierra Leone and South Africa are using technology and data to further their work on legal empowerment.  To do so, it assesses how organisations in Open Society Foundations’ Shared Framework collect, manage and analyse data on community based justice provision in those five countries, as well…

Case Records Management System Manual

Justice Sector Coordination Office (Sierra Leone), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Namati,

This Case Records Management System comprises of a hard copy data form and a multi-User Web-based Data Management Platform. The system is developed to manage data generated from the work of Paralegals under the Legal Empowerment Shared Framework Project, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa is an intervention that aims to improve access to…

Data Management Training of Paralegals and Managers

Justice Sector Coordination Office (Sierra Leone), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Namati,

This report catalogs the proceedings of the Data Management training organized by the JSCO and NAMATI for Paralegals and their Managers under the Legal Empowerment Shared Framework held from 21st & 25th April 2017, at the Ocean View Hotel in Juba, Freetown. The Legal Empowerment Shared Framework Project (LESF) is funded by the Open Society…

Justice Watchdogs: Promoting Women’s Access to Justice through Community-Based Paralegal Programs

Carley Robb-Jackson,

Within conflict-affected states, rule of law reforms have typically centered on building the capacity and legitimacy of state and formal institutions, and only address citizens‟ justice experiences and needs at a cursory level. Recently, there has been recognition of the need to consider individuals in the reform process, and this awareness has led to a…

Part of the Justice Puzzle: Community-based Paralegal Programs and Sierra Leone’s Legal Aid Act

Carley Robb-Jackson,

This paper, published in the Canadian Journal of Poverty Law, examines community-based paralegal programs in order to understand the connection between such programs, legal empowerment and access to justice. The paper presents an examination of community-based paralegal programs in Sierra Leone, particularly in the context of the government’s recent enactment of the Legal Aid Act…

What policies have been implemented in the protection of Sierra Leone’s natural resources?

Abubakar Kamara,

Abstract: Sierra Leone is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, with mining and agriculture as the primary industries driving such economic growth. However, despite the booming economic conditions, there are various environmental issues that the country is facing that impact and hinder the economic and environmental stability of the country. The country is…

Impact Evaluation Report

Justin Sandefur, Bilal Siddiqi, Alaina Varvaloucas,

Timap for Justice and the Open Society Justice Initiative launched a Criminal Justice Pilot (CJP) paralegal program in September 2009 in three rural districts of Sierra Leone. The program is intended to provide systematic access to justice to those detained at police stations and prisons, and employed 6 paralegals and 1 lawyer (now 10 paralegals). Paralegals solicit criminal…

Advocacy – Tips for Paralegals

Timap for Justice,

Advice and examples of effective advocacy letter writing, community organizing, and policy-level advocacy.

Delivering Justice to Sierra Leone’s Poor: An Analysis of the Work of Timap for Justice

Pamela Dale,

A report on the theory, methods, and impact of a Sierra Leonean paralegal organization.

Q&A: Legal empowerment as a beacon for environmental justice in Sierra Leone

Posted by Daniel Sesay in Environment, Land & Natural Resources

To spur economic growth, the government of Sierra Leone has been aggressively courting large-scale agriculture and mining investments. These have often led to the exploitation of communities and environmental devastation. Namati supports communities to protect customary land rights, challenge land grabs, remedy environmental harm, and, if they wish, negotiate fair deals with investors. This Q&A…

From a Land Grab to a Fair Deal – A Story from Masimra Town

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, Land & Natural Resources

Political power often enables corporate abuse. The Masimra community in Port Loko District, Sierra Leone can, unfortunately, attest to this after politicians elected by them to protect their interests instead opened them up to exploitation. In 2009, the then Deputy Minister of Trade and the Chairman of Port Loko District Council ushered the Dutch-owned agricultural…

The World’s First Book on Community Paralegals

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, General, Namati News, Resources & Research

I am thrilled to share a new book with you: Community Paralegals and the Pursuit of Justice. Community paralegals demystify law and empower people to advocate for themselves. They are at the heart of our movement for justice. But they have been largely ignored by scholars and writers. This book starts to fill that void….

How not to conduct Large-scale Agricultural Investments

Posted by Sonkita Conteh in Community Land Protection, Land & Natural Resources

This piece by Namati Sierra Leone Director Sonkita Conteh explores how not to conduct large-scale agricultural investments in Sierra Leone: lessons from the Malen/Socfin land dispute. http://standardtimespress.org/?p=8383

Court Orders Oil Palm Company to Return Land and Pay Arrears of Rent to Landowners in Sierra Leone

Posted by Namati in Land & Natural Resources, Namati News

Press Release Freetown, Sierra Leone, November 6, 2018 — The High Court of Sierra Leone has ordered bailiffs to return 41,582 hectares of land previously leased to Sierra Leone Agriculture Ltd (SLA) to three land-owning communities in Bureh, Kasseh, and Maconteh Chiefdoms in Port Loko District in northern Sierra Leone. The Indian-owned and Singapore-based company SIVA…

What next for Sierra Leone’s endangered forests?

Posted by Sonkita Conteh, Namati in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Community Land Protection, Land & Natural Resources

Last week, the government of Sierra Leone announced that all forest logging concessions are to be suspended “with immediate effect.” This was welcomed news in a country with only 5% original forest cover remaining. In this op-ed in Place, Sonkita Conteh, Director of Namati Sierra Leone, writes that now “the government must work to ensure…

Protect Sierra Leone’s Timber Before It’s Too Late

Posted by Namati in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Environment, General, Land & Natural Resources

Sierra Leone’s forests are disappearing because of the timber trade. Sonkita Conteh, Director of Namati Sierra Leone, calls on the government to do its job, to put people and environment ahead of profits, and to protect the country’s land before it’s too late in the Concord Times.

An open letter to President Bio: Keep plunderers out of our endangered forests for good.

Posted by Sonkita Conteh in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Environment, Land & Natural Resources

In a must-read open letter, Sonkita Conteh, Director of Namati Sierra Leone, calls on the president of Sierra Leone to keep his word to protect the endangered forests of the country. He calls resuming timber exports “short-sighted and dangerous” and a “desecration of pre-election commitments” and notes that “no amount of money will equal the value of…

Op-ed: Unrestrained resource exploitation in Sierra Leone is a “dangerous gamble”

Posted by Namati in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Environment, Land & Natural Resources, Namati News

In an op-ed in the Sierra Express Media, Sonkita Conteh, Director of Namati Sierra Leone, calls “unrestrained resource exploitation” in Sierra Leone a “dangerous gamble,” and calls on the new government to commit to environmental regulation that puts people ahead of profits, and justice ahead of development.

Desperate to Leave: Foinda Community Takes Action Against Mining Company

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, Environment, Land & Natural Resources

“Our situation has worsened, our only water source is destroyed, and our farm lands have been turned into a mining field. We cannot sleep due to heavy noise and vibrations. Our roads have been diverted. …Our livelihood is threatened by the operations of Sierra Rutile mining company.” — Mr. Massaquoi, 52, Foinda community.  Foinda is a…

Sierra Leone’s Small Towns Learn to Fight Against Land Grabs

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, Environment, Land & Natural Resources

When a multinational company displaced communities and polluted lands in Sierra Leone, villagers felt angry and helpless. When those same communities partnered with paralegals to understand, use, and shape the law, they said “the law is with us now” and pushed back. This piece in Ozy profiles how communities in Sierra Leone are using legal…

5 Lessons Learned From Applying a Legal Empowerment Approach to Community Land Protection in Sierra Leone

Posted by Hassan Sesay in Community Land Protection, Land & Natural Resources

The Namati team in Sierra Leone is engaged in an ongoing effort to discover sustainable measures for community ownership, management, and administration of land and natural resources throughout the country. To this end, we have taken on a new project: the application of a legal empowerment approach to community land protection. Land administration in Sierra…

Podcast: Can Legal Empowerment Change Power Dynamics?

Posted by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Community Paralegals, Environment, General, Land & Natural Resources

Access to justice is a key governance concern in developed and developing countries alike. Community legal workers aim to help poor or comparatively powerless people defend themselves against land grabs, obtain public services, and challenge corruption. Can this bottom-up approach counter powerful interests seeking to entrench their control? Can legal empowerment help respond to rising…

Video: Sonkita Conteh speaks about the paralegal approach in Sierra Leone at the “Solutions Summit”

Posted by Namati in Community Paralegals, Land & Natural Resources, Namati News

Namati’s Vivek Maru and Sonkita Conteh were among the 16 individuals honored with the Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2017. As one of the 9 honorees from sub-Sahara Africa, Sonkita was invited to attend the “Solutions Summit” which took place in Durban in early May, directly ahead of the World Economic Forum on…

Negotiating large-scale land deals in Sierra Leone: a paralegal approach

Posted by Sonkita Conteh in Community Paralegals, Land & Natural Resources

In a new article for Place, Namati’s Sierra Leone director, Sonkita Conteh, describes how community paralegals have been helping communities in Sierra Leone to secure better deals with big investor looking to lease their land. An excerpt of the article follows below. Three years ago I wrote about how communities in Sierra Leone were getting the short end of…

Sierra Leone Land Policy: An Open Letter to President Koroma

Posted by Sonkita Conteh in Advocacy & Systemic Change, Land & Natural Resources

Dear Mr. President, Last Thursday I was at State House to witness the low-key start of a potentially profound revolution in the land sector. For decades, our people and the environment have borne the scourge of a broken land tenure system. Many attempting to buy land to build a future for their families have lost…

BBC Africa: Sierra Leone Land Grab Thwarted

Posted by McKinley Charles in Community Land Protection, Community Paralegals, Land & Natural Resources, Namati News

Over 70 families in Nimiyama Chiefdom, Sierra Leone have had their land returned after taking a large multinational company to court. Local leaders had sold the families’ land to Orient Agriculture Ltd. without their knowledge or consent. With the support of a Namati community paralegal, the affected families learned about their right and how to…

‘I just need my freedom’

Posted by AdvocAid & IRIN in Community Paralegals, Gender

This moving documentary by IRIN follows the work of Marvel and Victoria, two paralegals working for Namati’s partner AdvocAid in Sierra Leone. It illustrates the harsh reality of life for many women in Sierra Leone who come into contact with the police and the prison system. Marvel and Victoria bring hope to those suffering arbitrary…