The first meeting was held at the Richmond Tholley Memorial Hall in Makeni city, Bombali District. This consultation brought together representatives from the Bar Association, Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES), legal practitioners within the Makeni municipality, Ebola survivors and the media.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion Julian Cole Esq. gave an overview of the LeWAE project. He said that Ebola survivors have experienced difficulties when trying to access justice adding that the challenges faced by them are many but not insurmountable. He encouraged them to speak their minds so that their problems will be addressed.
“This meeting is geared towards highlighting the legal issues Ebola survivors and victims face to help them prepare a document that will be used to address those issues in the not-too-distant future,” he said.
Representing the Bar Association, Ishmail P. Mammie Esq. said the main objective of the LeWAE project is to fight for the legal status of Ebola survivors in their communities by defending them against discrimination and all other societal ills which infringed on their rights and liberty.
“It is sad that the Government of Sierra Leone did not ratify any specific law to protect Ebola Survivors, which makes it difficult to address discrimination against them, but they, like all other Sierra Leoneans are governed by general laws (child rights act, devolution of estate etc).” Lawyer Mammie avowed.
For his part, the national coordinator of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors, Abdul Karim Bah spoke about the challenges encounterd by survivors in accessing justice. He cried that they are being ill-treated by their community members,adding that their rights to life, health and socio-economic wellbeing are seriously threatened. Mr. Bah however hoped that by the intervention of lawyers through the LeWAE project, their dignity will be restored.
Mr. Abdul Karim pointed out that the Association was formed to advocate for the livelihood, health and justice rights of Ebola survivors; and fight against stigma and discrimination.
He drew the Bar’s attention to a case filed by two Ebola Survivors and CARL against the Government of Sierra Leone at the ECOWAS Court. He said that SLAES is supporting the action because they believed the Government violated their rights to life and health during the Ebola crisis.
He ended by thanking the Bar Association and its partners for being concern about the wellbeing of Ebola survivors.
The same meeting was replicated in Bo at the Bo District Council Hall. The meeting was chaired by Victor I. Lansana Esq, with representatives from the SLBA, SLAES national and district executives, media houses, Ebola survivors and victims from Bo and neighboring districts in the southern region.