The recently newly Ombudsman of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Melron Nicol-Wilson and the Executive Director of Legal Aid Board, Claire Carlton-Hanciles, yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) at the office of the Legal Aid Board, Guma Building, Lamina Sankoh Street in Freetown.
The purpose of the MoU is to facilitate the referral of complaints that fall within the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman but reported to the Legal Aid Board and vice versa.
The MoU envisages a mutual collaboration in advancing administrative justice, safeguarding human rights and other related matters to the extent permitted by relevant legislation, so that information received by either institution can be dealt with effectively and efficiently and by the most appropriate institution.
The MoU is part of the activities of the Ombudsman’s 100-Day Action Plan. The Ombudsman, Melron Nicol-Wilson said: “I am very honored and pleased to be here today to sign the MoU with the Legal Aid Board. This MoU will assist both institutions to share information and expertise that will enable us work together, and take appropriate action to ensure that we achieve our respective mandates. It will enhance the exchange of knowledge and best practice of the two institutions”.
The Ombudsman further stated that “The MoU is about supporting our cooperative effort to a new level and ensuring matters are dealt with by the most appropriate institution and that information are shared and referrals are done with speed and highest level of professionalism. The Office of the Ombudsman believes that administrative justice and human rights can only be achieved when we work together and cooperate with the relevant institutions and stakeholder groups”.
The Executive Director of Legal Aid Board Claire Carlton-Hanciles said: “We welcome the MoU since referrals are absolutely necessary and a number of complaints have been made to the Legal Aid Board which fall within the mandate of the Ombudsman especially in the provincial towns. We now have the opportunity to work together”.
The MoU ensures that information handling, referrals of complaints and investigation of complaints by the Office of the Ombudsman and the LAB are not duplicated unnecessarily and are complementary, and that both institutions respect each other’s specific mandate, areas of expertise, and decisions concerning priorities and programs.