Report

Between Law and Society: Paralegals and the Provision of Primary Justice Services in Sierra Leone

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Between Law and Society: Paralegals and the Provision of Primary Justice Services in Sierra Leone Download the full publication. 1.54 Mb, PDF Download
Date
March 2010

Published by the Open Society Justice Initiative, Between Law and Society: Paralegals and the Provision of Primary Justice Services in Sierra Leone focuses on Timap for Justice, a pioneering organization expanding access to legal services in rural areas. This updated edition includes a new foreword by George Soros.

Timap, co-founded by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Sierra Leonean National Forum for Human Rights, is leading a groundbreaking effort to train and deploy paralegals to address a wide range of disputes. In a nation with five million people and only 100 lawyers, the need for their services is acute.

Timap's paralegals address justice problems that arise between people and the authorities, such as corruption in government services, as well as disputes between individuals, including instances of domestic violence and failure to pay child support. Cases highlighted in this book include a man cheated by a corrupt local chief and a woman accused of being a witch.

Paralegals use mediation, advocacy, and community organizing to resolve such problems. Their efforts are complicated by Sierra Leone's dualist legal structure, which features both a formal legal system of courts and lawyers based on the English model, and a customary system based on traditional approaches to justice. Timap's paralegals apply their knowledge of formal law and their familiarity with local customs to navigate between the two legal systems.

Between Law and Society is available for download.

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