The Carter Center, in collaboration with the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), is expanding its Community Legal Advisor (CLA) program to provide legal support services in nine rural counties.
The CLA program is aimed at giving rural Liberians access to free community-based legal services and knowledge of rights. According to the CC/JPA‘s press release, Since2007, more than 3,000 cases have seen opened by community legal advisors.
“As Liberia’s legal system slowly recovers for the war and seek to gain the trust of its citizens, our community legal advisors fill a critical gap by providing rural citizens with aces to their rights as guaranteed under the Liberian Law”, said JPC Executive Director Councilor Augustine Toe.
Additionally, the release said, The Carter Center and the JPC will add ten new CLAs and two attorneys to the existing programs to meet an increasing demand for information, mediation, and referral services. Currently, 34 community legal advisors service rural citizens in eight of Liberia‘s 15 counties-Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Sinoe, Maryland, and Grand Kru. In 2011, the new CLAs will help strengthen the project in existing counties and expanded work into Grand Bassa County.
“The legal advisors come from the communities that they serve and receive extensive training to provide a variety of services. For example, the help women assert inheritance rights, mediate small civil disputes, conduct non-legal advocacy, and work with communities to help them have their rights recognized and enforced. They work closely with the formal and customary systems provide widespread civic education to make the rule of law relevant and accessible t ordinary Liberians and to help foster active citizenship,” the release quoted the JPC boss as saying.
Since 2006, the Carter Center has partnered with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and civil society organizations in range of interlinked efforts to support access to justice, particularly among rural and marginalized populations. These activities include support for community legal advisors; civic education on the rule of law; training and support for indigenous leaders to strengthen their dispute resolution capacity and understanding the rule of law.