Handing out Ebola prevention materials
On behalf of everyone at AdvocAid, and all of the women we support, thank you for the generous donation you have made to our Ebola Response Appeal via Global Giving. Since the start of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak, there have been over 10,000 deaths and more than 24,000 infected.
Based in Sierra Leone, AdvocAid have been at the heart of the Ebola outbreak, standing firmly side-by-side with the women we represent and the courts, police stations and prisons we work with.
With your support, AdvocAid has supplied sanitation materials such as dettol, chlorine, buckets and gloves to courts, prisons and police stations, along with welfare support for female detainees. In January, we visited the Kissy Police Station, Ross Road Police Station and Waterloo Court to hand out preventative materials and talk to staff about the best ways to curb an outbreak in their facilities.
In March, AdvocAid staff went to Aberdeen Police Post, Adonkia Police Station, Adelaide Street Police Station, Central Police Station, CID Pademba Road and Goderich Police Station in the Western Area. We also went into the provinces, to supply the police stations, courts and correctional centres in Bo and Kenema with preventative and welfare items.
The prison population is constantly revolving, making an outbreak behind bars a high probability. With your support, over 20 institutions have received materials, keeping staff, detainees and their children safe.
As the outbreak has developed, we have noticed that not only is AdvocAid’s support needed with sanitation items, but also in providing vital assistance and aid as the legal landscape has changed so dramatically.
In July 2014, the President declared a national State of Emergency. As a result of this, a number of laws have been amended, resulting in a ban on public assemblies, reduced trading hours, curfews in some areas and periodic ‘lockdowns’. These rules, whilst aimed at curbing the Ebola outbreak, unfortunately have also created a heightened sense of fear resulting in an increased number of arrests.
Subsequently, AdvocAid have played a vital role in providing women affected by the State of Emergency with legal aid - for example market traders affected by amended trading laws. During the lockdowns, including the most recent one from 27-29 March, AdvocAid dispatched paralegals to Police Stations in each region in which we operate to ensure there was legal support on hand for those detained during the lockdown. We provided assistance and advice to over 50 individuals during the 72 hour period, including those that were detained for collecting water, leaving their homes for food and leaving ID cards at home amongst other offences.
In October 2014, eight Kono residents (two women and six men) were detained following an alleged riot at a contested Ebola burial. They were detained without charge, had no warrants or documentation supporting their detention in prison, and therefore no date when they would be released. Constitutional safeguards, such as review of their detention by an independent tribunal, were not followed.
AdvocAid, in partnership with Amnesty International Sierra Leone, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) and Prison Watch campaigned for the release of these eight suspects. Following six months of campaigning and raising awareness on the national and international stage, the two women were released on 12 April 2015. They had spent six months behind bars away from their children, for allegations they deny. The men were finally charged on 21 April after a habeas corpus application was filed.
As the outbreak has continued, AdvocAid has strategically positioned itself to ensure human rights aren’t abused, laws are upheld, the justice system continues to function, and that the State of Emergency doesn’t curtail freedom of expression and assembly.
We’re incredibly grateful for your support. Through your donations, we’re able to continue operating when Sierra Leone needs it the most. Our work is far from complete however - we’re seeking to ensure that once the outbreak is declared over, Sierra Leone remains a fair and just country.
If you’re able to continue supporting this important project, we’d be most grateful.
Thank you for your support.
One of our Paralegals monitoring lockdown arrests
One of our paralegals documenting lockdown arrests
Distribution of Ebola prevention materials
Two Kono detainees upon release & a third detainee