A locally based non-government organization (NGO), known as Community Health Education and Social Services (CHESS), recently launched a ‘free legal services’ program for 55 communities in five administrative districts, targeting 25,000 residents in Saclepea, Nimba County.
For the implementation of the project, CHESS hired Dehtho, Beyan and Associates Law Firm for legal consultancy and representation for anyone who may be affected thereafter.
The project, known as “Community Access to Justice”, is funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It is expected to cover 55 communities in five administrative districts, which include Wee Ghehyi, Yarwin Mensonnoh, Boe & Quillah, Buu-Yao and Doe, respectively.
Eleven communities were selected in each of the districts.
“The UNDP/OHCHR Joint Program is intended to strengthen the country’s Rule of Law; Justice and Security for the Liberian People,” said CHESS executive director, J. Alexander Nyahn Jr.
The program, accordingly seeks to build positive linkages between the formal and informal justice actors, and conduct legal literacy awareness for 25,000 rural dwellers, and provide pro-bono (free) legal aid and representations for 50 indigents (poor) to ensure access to justice for all, including women and children.
“This project also works with 10 school-based legal aid awareness,” Mr Nyahn said.
The project will establish and work through 55 Community Support Committees (CSCs) and five District Support Committees (DSCs) to train 385 CSC, and or District Support Committees (DSCs) members, to consist of “trusted community leaders.”
The roles of the CSCs and DSCs shall be the promotion of the rule of law at the community level via conduct of awareness on focus group discussions, town square dialogues, media engagement, tracking and monitoring of human rights-related violence under the technical support of CHESS Community Support Officers, and then sustain the project activities after phasing out.
The launching ceremony brought together stakeholders including officers of the Liberian National Police, representatives from Correction Centers, the Nimba Bar Association, Liberia Marketing Association, Community Watch Forum, Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Road Transport Union.