The Judiciary of Sierra Leone through the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (JLTI), with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) has commenced an eight-day professional training for Paralegals on Paralegal Studies.

Officially declaring the training open, the Chief Justice His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards said Paralegals are professionals trained to assist lawyers, litigants, witnesses and other legal bodies in various legal capacities. He said Paralegals are not lawyers.

He said as paralegals, they’re required to exhibit qualities such as “high personal standards and positive work ethics, intellectual curiosity, dedication to continuing professional and skills development, ability to identify problems and develop strategies in addressing them.”

The Chief Justice encouraged them to be oriented with profound organizational skills and to have passion for accuracy as well as to be good communicators.

He used the occasion to thank and appreciate the OSIWA for providing financial and technical support in ensuring that the training holds.

Welcoming the delegates and the facilitators, the Chairman of the JLTI, Hon. Justice Emmanuel Ekundayo Roberts (JSC), said today marks an important step in the strive to increasing access to justice.

He referred to Paralegals as important components and key players in the provision of some access at all levels to the justice delivery system.

“We believe that continuous trainings for all of you would form a very good basis for the enhancement of the kind of work you do” Justice Roberts stated.

He encouraged the participants to take active part in the training, ask many questions and make a lot of contributions for which they’ll be evaluated at the end of the training.

In his Statement, Court of Appeal Judge and Chairman of the Legal Aid Board, Hon. Justice Ansumana Ivan Sesay said the training will prepare the Paralegals to discharge their duties effectively and efficiently.

Representing the sponsor-OSIWA, Idriss Bindi, said building the capacity of Paralegals as well as supporting the work of the Judiciary is at the heart of their operations.

He said “our core values emphasize constructive organization, engage in the promotion and protection of human rights especially those of women. We’re also inclined that we have to strengthen national human rights and legal accountability mechanism for greater protection of human rights and access to justice.”

He thanked the leadership provided by the Chief Justice and his team for the initiative to organize a Judicial Week across the country.

The training has brought together 70 paralegals across the country to foster efficient service delivery in the justice sector.