DCI-Sierra Leone : gaps and challages to provide access to justice to adolescent girls

DCI – SIERRA LEONE INSPIRES JUDGES, MAGISTRATES AND PROSECUTORS TO END SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST ADOLESCENT GIRLS

 

Defence for children International – Sierra Leone (DCI-SL) has engaged child justice actors on the gaps and challenges in access to justice for victims of sexual violence, especially adolescent girls.

The public event which took place in Bo and Kenema districts, attracted 24 participants including a High Court judge, a magistrate, State Councils, Police prosecutors, District councils, Family Support Unit (FSU) investigators and the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs.

Speaking at the occasion, the Executive Director of DCI-SL, Abdul Manaff Kemokai, expressed his satisfaction on the role of child justice actors in improving access to justice for victims and survivors of sexual violence, especially adolescent girls. He added that, despite tremendous progress adolescent girls still face challenges in accessing justice.

“Access to essential services, compromise of cases, victims and witness support and protection, poor investigation and lack of effective collaboration between police prosecutors at the magistrate courts and FSU investigation officers remain serious issues to be addressed,” said Mr. Kemokai.

 

The resident judge in Bo District, Alpha Ganda, expressed his appreciation and thanked organisers of the event, for the work they have been doing in promoting access to justice for victims of sexual violence in the district. However, he urged Family Support Unit investigators and police prosecutors to collaborate and improve the investigations and documentation of cases of sexual violence against adolescent girls. “We all have a role to play in addressing sexual violence against adolescent girls in Sierra Leone” he ended.

The head of the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police Force, Fatmata Daboh Kamara, expressed her delight to attend the event. She stated that, from January to October 2020, a total of 2913 cases of sexual violence offences were reported to the FSU.

However, over the years, DCI has been working tirelessly to improve access to justice for children in Sierra Leone. “We monitor, identify and respond to rights’ violations by providing socio-legal services, such as legal information, aid and representation, psychosocial counselling, mediation, and family tracing and reunification, to children in contact and in conflict with the law. In addition, we partner with other service providers to ensure appropriate referrals and to respond to emergency situations” said Abdul Manaff Kemokai.

The resident Magistrate in Kenema, Momoh Lansana encouraged stakeholders to collaborate for the improvement of access to justice for victims of sexual violence. He warned that, while access to justice is vital for all side, FSU investigators need to pay particular attention, “to be detailed in their investigation so the right results can be achieved and in the best interest of victims of sexual violence can be protected.”

The engagement ended with concrete recommendations for officials working with victims of sexual violence, like safety and protection of witness and victims’, collaboration and partnership between justice actors, capacity building for the FSU, and increases access to justice services for victims and survivors of sexual violence.

Media contact:

To learn more about the joint statement, please contact DCI-Sierra Leone at: info@dcisierraleone.org or by phone at: +232 88 818089. 

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