Ms. Carlton-Hanciles criticized both parties in a statement at the launch of the Election Preparedness Report by the Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI) and the consortium Strengthening Electoral Accountability and Governance (SEAG) at the Hill Valley Hotel on Wednesday, November 15.
The report assessed the preparedness of the National Electoral Commission, Political Parties Registration Commission, Sierra Leone Police, Office of National Security (ONS), the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) and other relevant institutions for the March 2018 elections.
Speaking on the ‘preparedness of the Legal Aid Board for the forth coming 2018 elections’ Ms. Carlton-Hanciles spoke about the training of staff, volunteers, partners and political parties on the Public Elections Act 2012, Peace and Conflict resolution.
She also spoke about the work of Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution service at mediating minor election related disputes. ‘We had to mediate a matter at Thunder Hill in which a landlord was going to evict a tenant because of an argument over an incident at a political party rally,’ she said.
She said voter education on the electoral processes and ensuring peaceful elections is now part of the Board’s community outreach around the country.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles expressed alarm at the use of children at political rallies because they will not be voting in the elections. ‘Some of them perpetrate violence while others fall victim to it,’ she said. She also drew attention to the large number of youths who appear at every rally to perpetrate violence and steal.
She therefore called on parties to discipline their members. ‘I would like to advice members of the public who attend these rallies not to carry valuables on them because they be attracting criminals,’ she said.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said with 20 lawyers, the Board does not have the personnel to provide legal assistance to all those who will be prosecuted for election related offences. ‘We have started seeing the early warning signs and need to warned potential trouble makers,’ she said.