Timap for Justice

Timap for Justice seeks to provide basic legal services in Sierra Leone.

Because of a shortage of lawyers in the country and because of Sierra Leone’s dualist legal structure, Timap for Justice is made up of community-based paralegals rather than lawyers.

Over 70 staff who work in 19 paralegal offices across Sierra Leone as well as in the capital Freetown are employed. The program is directed by two lawyers who train, supervise, and support the paralegals in their work.

The directors employ litigation and high-level advocacy sparingly and strategically to address cases in which:

  • a paralegal is not able to achieve resolution on her own
  • the harm or injustice is severe
  • there is a possibility of legal impact.

Because litigation or even the threat of litigation carries significant weight in Sierra Leone the capacity to litigate adds strength to paralegals' ongoing work as advocates and mediators.

Timap strives to solve clients’ justice problems and at the same time to cultivate the agency of the communities among which we work. Timap enages and seeks to improve both formal and customary institutions.

In 2009 in Timap launched the Community Mediation Programme (CMP) and the Criminal Justice Project (CJP), expanding on Timap’s core work.

Modeled on the Malawian Village Mediation Programme, the CMP is a partnership with the Sierra Leonean government’s Justice Sector Development Programme and focuses on resolution of disputes at the community level through mediation. Timap paralegals train and mentor ordinary men and women to serve as mediators in their communities according to a strict code of conduct. At the end of 2010, some 300 Timap-trained mediators had admitted over 2,000 cases, with almost 1,800 recorded as resolved.

The Criminal Justice Project (CJP), with support from the Open Society Justice Initiative’s “Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice”, seeks to narrow the gap in the availability of criminal justice services by employing paralegals to provide basic legal assistance to detainees. Timap paralegals are stationed at police stations and detention facilities and assist suspects immediately after arrest to ensure their human rights and the constitutional limits of detention are respected; provide basic legal advice; collect information necessary to secure bail and refer cases to lawyers for further assistance.

The CJP aims to ensure that only those who pose a risk to the community are remanded in detention. By December 2010 our ten CJP paralegals had handled more than 4,300 cases, managing the release of more than 2,300 detainees.

4E Mudge Farm, Off Aberdeen Road
Freetown, Sierra Leone
+232 22-230-053

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