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SLMWA Launches ADR Handbook

21 May 2007 at 15:44 | 192 views

The Sierra Leone Market Women’s Association (SLMWA) has launched the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Handbook on Monday 21st May 2007 at the British Council Hall Tower hill in Freetown, with support from the Justice Sector Development Programme (JSDP).

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to the availability of mechanisms outside of the more formalised state structures that have been established to dispense justice. The Justice Sector Development Programme (JSDP) recognizes the importance of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms to the majority of the population in Sierra Leone as a system that can provide access to affordable, speedy and fair resolution to disputes.

JSDP therefore commissioned a study of the SLMWA, which revealed that most market women turn to the executive members of their association for mediation on certain issues and this system could be adapted to be more responsive to human rights standards. Subsequently, an information, education, and communication handbook was developed, with the active participation of SLMWA, to serve as a guide in their dispute settlement.

On 22nd February 2007 a validation exercise, and Training of Trainers workshop was conducted for SLMWA, on the content and use of the ADR handbook. Topics covered in the workshop included the SLWMA Perception of Justice, the nature of the disputes reported to, and mediated by, the Committee appointed to settle disputes, types of disputes outside the jurisdiction of SLWMA and the complaints and summon process.

Marie Vandy, president of the SLMWA in Sierra Leone, remarked, “This type of dispute resolution is critical to complement the justice sector reform in Sierra Leone. Court delays and the cost of resolving disputes are reduced and the level of tension and conflict in the community is lessened.”

The handbook serves both as an information manual and a training guide to be used as a capacity-building initiative, aimed at helping the SLMWA and other organisations to standardize and improve on their ADR activities.

The Justice Sector Development Programme (JSDP) is a Government of Sierra Leone initiative, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by the British Council. It is a five-year programme that started in March 2005 and operates in Freetown and the Moyamba District for the initial two-year phase.

The primary objective of the programme is to improve safety, security and access to justice for the people of Sierra Leone, particularly the poor, vulnerable and marginalized. JSDP is located at the British Council on Tower Hill in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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Source: JSDP,Freetown.

Photo: Miss Sarah MacIntosh, British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone.

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