LAUNCHING OF COMMUNITY JUSTICE PROJECT IN THE SIERRA LEONE COMMUNITY
The Sierra Leone Nationals Association of Manitoba (SALNAM) wishes to invite community members and friends to the certification and launching ceremony of the Community Justice Project in our community.
The project is called "WE YONE PALAVER HUT PROJECT" - a pilot .
We Yone Palaver Hut Project is now designed and will be commissioned as a model of an alternative dispute resolution in the Sierra Leone community.
The model uses newcomers traditional and cultural dispute resolution, peacemaking and reconciliation practices that is transformative and restorative for parties in conflict. Healing and reconciliation ceremonies defined our traditional and cultural heritage- a practice that promotes "the use of alternative measures or extrajudicial sanctions in specified circumstances to deal with persons who have accepted responsibility for their conduct" as a provision in the Restorative Justice Act.
As a model of restorative Justice in a population with diversity, one of the main objectives of this project is to complement the efforts of government and stakeholders in delivering restorative justice with diversity and inclusiveness in a province that we call home - "A friendly Manitoba. ".The provincial restorative Justice Act that was proclaimed last year, also guaranteed the provision of an " alternative approach to addressing unlawful conduct outside the traditional criminal prosecution process" and also " promotes the development and use of restorative justice programs in Manitoba" - An inclusive and diversity of its implementation in a multicultural population.
As one of his professional interest, and expertise in transitional justice system, and while we are advocating for the recognition and realization of newcomers alternative traditional dispute resolution in the criminal justice system, a model was designed by Mr Victor KaiCombey for community leaders to be train in Coaching for Resolution and Mediation skills for leaders.
This alternative dispute resolution model was developed for newcomers in Manitoba, with a pilot in the Sierra Leone community. It is a pilot project because it is the first of its kind in the entire Canada, and will be replicated in other newcomers communities upon successful implementation of the project in our community.
The training is an empowerment to various newcomers communities in order to professionally manage and resolve their own community disputes through mediation. It is an applied and customized training that could be use in various communities, at home, religious institutions ( churches and mosques), at work , schools and above all, in a population with diversity.
The training was done at Resolution Skills Centre, Mediation Services, Winnipeg and sponsored by Manitoba Justice.
In Canada, the principle of restorative justice is connect to the indigenous traditional dispute resolution. However, restorative justice practices is not new to other cultures as the country population is defined by its multicultural immigration. As newcomers in a population with diversity, we bring our own restorative justice that we use to solve our community dispute - 'PALAVER"- as it is commonly called in our local krio language. This model speaks to our traditional and indigenous cultural practices in problem solving that is community and family centered approach as opposed to litigation. Our traditional and cultural means of dispute resolution is community and family oriented.
Court / legal proceedings are complex dispute resolution model to newcomers, and most importantly, newcomers are not informed about the ramification of legal proceedings in a dispute that could be easily settled by families, friends and community leaders. New comers are not new to the system of problem solving by community and religious leaders among themselves. Restorative justice is traditionally connected to newcomers models of alternative dispute resolution practices. We do encourage all community members to utilize this opportunity of the community mediation process, by using our traditional models that is customized to our cultural and traditional practices in resolving conflicts ( PALAVER ) in our community.
The Sierra Leone community is now privileged to have trained community leaders in COACHING FOR RESOLUTION, AND MEDIATION SKILLS FOR LEADERS. They will be going for further professional trainings that can empower them as resource personnel's and community experts in the field of victim / offenders mediation, community dispute resolution, peacemaking, healing and reconciliation.
In addition to the training they took, it is also important to know that, the trainers has expertise in different careers ranging from social work, counselling, psychology, teaching, religion, human rights and justice, youths and community work, that are transferable skills and knowledge to the current task. The trained community leaders are charged with the following responsibilities as they assumed the position as COMMUNITY JUSTICE WORKERS AND MEDIATORS in the Newcomers - Sierra Leone community.
As peace ambassadors in the Sierra Leone community, they should, among others:
- Help mitigate , and prevent systemic causes of violence among youths and young people, crime and deviant behaviors in our communities, promote public and community safety, respect the rule of law, and promote peace and reconciliation among community members
- Complement the effort of community policing, by collaborating and working with law enforcement agencies and personnel's within the legal parameters in community dispute resolution, and prevention
- Should do an impartial inquiry ( investigation) , and conduct hearing of any dispute between community members ( parties in conflict) , and, or other person, or persons outside the Sierra Leone community for a peaceful and amicable resolution that is accepted by both parties
- Should help parties to resolve problems ( not solving for them) through a mediation process, by using our traditional and culturally accepted and appropriate models in dispute resolution
- Should give counseling and support both victims and offenders in the dispute, and help them transition for successful community reintegration
- Should also help identify, and refer parties ( victim / offender) to community resource , and other specialized community programs in the city that are needed by them
- Promote the principles, and values of traditional restorative justice practices among, and within the newcomers communities, and collaborate with other community stakeholders
- Engage in sensitization, education and awareness raising about the effect of drugs, and its abuse among youths and young people in our communities
- Promote community unionism and help other community members develop programs that can productively engage youths, and young people, in order to redirect their minds from deviant behaviors and contribute to a sustained community development
- Other potential tasks and services as needed by the community in public and community safety, crime and conflict prevention, and resolution for a just community.
There is no doubt that conflict is so common in our homes and community today, and has resulted to disrespect for elders, hate among members, and divorce and separation of families in our community.
Many of our youths have had negative encounters with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Some of them have also been criminalized for offences that could be addressed through restorative justice practices.
"We Yone Palavar Hut" is a Sierra Leonean lingo used to empower all community members to participate in the program which, as noted, gives the opportunity for us as a community to solve our own problems or conflicts without resorting to hate, disrespect, divorce, family separation, or involving law enforcement or the criminal justice system. It creates the platform for community participation or involvement in crime prevention, reduction and justice within the criminal justice system.
The following community members completed the training and will be certified, with a climax of a launching ceremony of the Community Justice Project, " WE YONE PALAVER HUT PROJECT".
Mr. Francis Amara , Eriqueson Tayo-Jones, Sally Wai, Abu Bakarr Kamara (Biggie), Marcelle Ngegba, Alfred Koineh, Daniella Njai, Ahmed Bangura, Simeon Ganda, and Juliet Pessima
As your community leader, I would like to use this opportunity to send a congratulatory message to all of them ( and myself) who sacrificed their time, and resource in completing the intensive training for the benefit of the entire community, and the province of Manitoba. Our people will hold you, to the highest esteem, with regards to your professionalism in making our community a peaceful and just community for all.
This project has the full backing of SALNAM as the organization is committed to building a just community that is strong, vibrant, cohesive, united, successful, and is of law abiding people for the benefits of all community members. This project will contribute immensely to helping SALNAM and our community to achieve our dream goals.
Please come in large numbers and join us in the launching and certification of this important community cohesion project. We are also asking for your support in the successful launching of the program. Food and refreshments will be provided, and should any community member wishes to help with food, you are welcome. Please contact Daniella Njai for all food donations, and she can be reached at 204 794-2021
Project initiated, designed and spearheaded by Mr Victor KaiCombey , one of our own community member here in Winnipeg.
Mr. KaiCombey is a human rights scholar, activist and an independent researcher, a peace builder and conflict resolution practitioner. Mr KaiCombey pursues a consulting career with a concentration in human rights & democratization, peace building and transitional justice, focusing on a restorative justice agenda, and psychosocial community based intervention.
His interest in restorative and social justice continues, by sitting on the Board of Directors of the National ( Canadian ) Restorative Justice Consortium , Manitoba Restorative Justice Association, and on the Manitoba Restorative Justice Advisory Council to the minister of Justice, and an independent Board member of Peace Africa Alliance, Consulting, Educating and Training - PAACET. He is also the founder of Defenders of Global Justice, a global human rights based consulting organization.
Previously, Mr KaiCombey served as the Africa Representative to the International Development Committee (IDC), Development and Peace Canada, as well as the National Consultative Committee (NCC), International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (also known as Rights and Democracy) where he later served as Head of the Students Delegation and Coordinator.
Prior to moving to Canada, Victor played an integral role in the transitional justice system in post-conflict Sierra Leone, our motherland. He was actively involved in the implementation of the NCDDR – National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration program, working with ex-combatants in their various communities. As a restorative model in the Sierra Leone transitional Justice system, Victor also served the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a Statement Taker, receiving statements (narrative information) from war victims, offenders, and witnesses, documenting violations of human rights abuses, by working towards the achievement of the commission mandate that aims at establishing "an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone, from the beginning of the conflict in 1991 to the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement; to address impunity, to respond to the needs of the victims, to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered".
Victor was later appointed as the National Coordinator for the Sierra Leone Truth & Reconciliation Working Group. The TR Working Group was a coalition of Sierra Leone civil society, human rights organizations, national NGOs and international human rights organizations who were committed to the Sierra Leone transitional justice system.
Mr KaiCombey has a passion for Social Justice, understanding the root causes of poverty, empowering civil society, healing and reconciliation, counselling, ecological justice, promoting democratic governance and the rule of law, child rights, women empowerment and overcoming human trafficking.
His current research interest among others are:
1. How restorative justice are delivered in a population with diversity, that is informed by the traditional and cultural practices, as an alternative dispute resolution model? The realities and challenges of addressing unlawful conduct outside the traditional criminal justice system, or the use of extrajudicial sanctions.
2. What are the cultural and traditional restorative models of truth Commissions, and how do they investigate a pattern of human rights abuses in a transitional society?
Finally, as a restorative justice model, the Sierra Leone TRC was very fundamental in bringing communities ( the people ) together by using our traditional methods of healing and reconciliation to address the conflict. This also demonstrate how resilient Sierra Leoneans are, among all other challenges that we faced during and after the war. We were able to come into terms with our differences by accepting offenders ( ex-combatants who took arms and ammunitions against us, as a nation).
As Sierra Leoneans, we have spoken to the world that we love peace, and are peace ambassadors. WE ARE ALL PEACE AMBASSADORS , I said !!.
For more information about "the palaver hut project", please contact
Thank you all for your attention, and please invite your friends
Abu Bakarr Kamara (Biggie)
President - SALNAM