By: Stephen G. Fellajuah
The Justice Minister of the Republic of Liberia Attorney Frank Musa Dean has alarmed over the overcrowding of prison facilities across the country, which he said is as the results of detainees who are send to jail because of the lack of bond fee. According to Minister Dean, some of the magistrates do not understand certain rights.
For instance, he said “Somebody carried a complain of another because of debt of L$50 and that person is thrown behind bar because he or she does not have bond fee”. Minister Dean made the statement when he delivered keynote at the official launch of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law Justice Hotline Clinic.
“This is a whole range of rights that you have to assist people with. This will indeed improve our access to justice especially for the unfortunate and the marginalized. It will improve our environment, perception of the law and what for our society supposed to look like. People have to cultivate knowledge and attitude”, he noted as he encouraged the students who will be participating to do their research that will enable them to perform.
The Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia on Wednesday launched its Justice Hotline Service Clinic, an outreach program in which law school sharing with Carter Center to provide hands on experience for law school students and at the same time providing community service for people who will be calling from the counties to get information to be provided by participating students and supervise by a legal technical person and administrator.
Held November 2, 2022, in the institution conference room at the UL campus on Capitol Hill. The program is an initiative of the Carter Center in Collaboration with the University of Liberia with support from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Endorsement Affairs. The Project will be initiated in four counties, to include Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh counties.
In his opening and welcoming remarks, Attorney Kpadeson Sumo, Associate Dean and Assistant Prof of Law said the Justice Hotline Service Clinic is a pilot project which the University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Carter Center to provide what he described as a unique service.
“While we are piloting this service, we also anticipate that as we go along, we will also rollout in the communities a mobile clinic approach”, Attorney Sumo said. According to him the idea of a clinic has been a long standing one of those things that the Law School has been wanting to do that will provide a mean of supporting the students in learning on the job at the same time providing access to justice to the communities and people on legal information.
Prof. Sumo was followed by Attorney Kebeh Saryon, Technical Person who provided additional details of the Justice Service Clinic when she said there are currently 12 students who will be rendering services to the public through this program. She added that when residents in those counties have legal problem they will provide the hotline number – 55432 or 7788 that they will call for requisite legal information.
Also making remarks at the program, Cllr. Viama Blama, Vice President for Legal Affairs, recommended that the students receive the information, document it and summit it to the lawyer who will provide the information to the client. He said this mobile program is a great initiative as he pledged the UL support to the success of the project
For her part, representative of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL), Attorney Fanta D. Barclay said the clinic is essential to the citizens of the country and strongly recommended that AFELL be one of the key referral station. She said as practicing lawyers they are about passionate about breaking barriers to equal justice.
Mr. Dorbor Jallah, Country Director of Carter Center Liberia, said the program as a pilot project he hopes that UL can build on the lesson learned to be able to expand it into a full-fledged program. He called all individuals and Institutions who are interested in advancing access to justice to support the initiative and the law school.