Improving the Rule of Law and Access to Justice Programme

What is the programme about?

 Sierra Leone Police receiving SGBV case guidelines

The Government of Sierra Leone’s Justice Sector Reform and Investment Plan (JSRSIP) II 2011-2014 provides the framework within which UNDP supports the justice sector in Sierra Leone. UNDP is building on results attained through previous Access to Justice support by scaling up promising practices that have had high impact as well as expanding into areas based on clear needs. UNDP support prioritises the prevention and prosecution of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases and the promotion of women’s property rights.

The Access to Justice Programme builds the capacity of national institutions through the training of Police Prosecutors, Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police and members of the Judiciary. In addition, the Programme involves the development and delivery of knowledge products, community outreach and legal awareness programmes, support to advocacy for law reform and the provision of support services to victims of sexual violence. The Programme also supports access to justice for women in relation to land and property rights, including through pro-bono legal representation and legal counseling. The Programme also supports the Independent Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone with a focus on core capacity building including on the Commission’s capacity to investigate and report on potential human rights abuses in the country.

The Programme’s expected outcomes and related objectives over 2013 and 2014 are as follows:

Outcome 1: Strengthened state capacity for effective and equitable justice service delivery.

  1. Enhanced core capacity of state institutions to provide effective services.  Support will be provided to the Law Officer’s Department within the Ministry of Justice to develop a Strategic Plan based on the Agenda for Prosperity and the JSRSIP II, produce Law Reports and train police prosecutors.
  2. Strengthening state capacity to prevent SGBV and promote gender equality. With the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in late 2012, significant efforts are required to ensure staff have the necessary tools and knowledge to implement the new legal framework.
  3. Strengthened capacity of local courts through support to the Judiciary.  The Local Courts Act 2011 places local courts under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary. UNDP will support the implementation of the Local Courts Act, with a focus on capacity building of local court officials on SGBV.
  4. Extend ‘formal’ justice service delivery to rural areas and support expansion of Saturday Courts to the regions.
  5. Support to enhance the functioning of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone. UNDP and Irish Aid, together with the Irish Commission for Human Rights, will continue to build an existing partnership framework to provide capacity building support to the Commission.

Outcome 2: Enhanced civil society capacity to support access to justice and elicit accountability for justice service delivery.

  1. Develop Civil Society Organisation (CSO) capacity to protect women and children from SGBV.
  2. Strengthen CSO capacity to support improved access to land and property rights, particularly for women.
  3. Enhance legal support for communities at local court level, with priority on women’s access to justice including on civil justice issues.
  4. Increase CSO capacity at district and national levels to raise public legal awareness and support efforts to monitor and evaluate the performance of justice institutions, particularly in relation to SGBV and women’s access to land and property rights.     

Accomplishments so far


UNDP has been supporting Access to Justice improvements in Sierra Leone since 2009, and has achieved notable results:

  • Since September 2010, more than 979 cases have been registered with more than 565 cases resolved through support to Mobile Courts in the southern region of Sierra Leone, bringing increased justice to rural communities.
  • On an average monthly basis, the number of cases being registered grew from 32.5 in September 2010 to 52.4 by June 2012, also with support to Mobile Courts at the High Court and Magistrate Court level in the southern region.
  • Sierra Leone’s first Legal Aid Scheme with national reach was established in 2009, and in its first two years of implementation, the Scheme reached 953 impoverished citizens and lessons from its operations informed the development of a National Legal Aid Scheme and Legal Aid Act 2012.
  • As of June 2012, 673 SGBV cases were registered at the Magistrate Court while 120 cases were registered at the High Court with 58 and a total of 53 convictions were obtained with the assistance of UNDP-supported SGBV Saturday Courts in Freetown and Bo. These courts provide a victim-friendly environment on Saturdays when no other courts are sitting and also ensure that SGBV cases are dealt with as quickly as possible.
  • The professionalism of Police Officers in Family Support Units of the Sierra Leone Police has been enhanced through the development of Guidelines on SGBV Case Management and related trainings, resulting in improved standards of case files sent forward for prosecution and the increased likelihood of convictions. Over 2011 and 2012, a total of 359 police personnel, including 163 males and 196 females benefitted from the training.
  • Since 2009, UNDP has provided financial support to CSOs nationwide to raise awareness of SGBV, promote community-level prevention mechanisms and provide legal and practical support to victims. From September 2011 to June 2012, a total number of 82 SGBV convictions were obtained, 220 SGBV referral mechanisms were established and SGBV related by-laws were formulated in eight communities. These referral mechanisms act as a means of preventing sexual abuse and ensure quick and adequate responses to incidences when they take place. During the same period, a total 309 victims of SGBV received medical attention, counseling, shelter and legal assistance.
  • The newly introduced Sexual Offences Act 2012 prohibits child marriage and takes strong punitive action against SGBV offenders, providing an overall solid framework for the investigation and prosecution of SGBV cases. The passing of the 2012 Sexual Offences Act is a positive step forward for victims of SGBV in the country and was achieved through considerable advocacy efforts by the international community with UNDP providing significant support to Parliamentarians and the Ministry of Justice.
  • In partnership with Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), 325 community women leaders across the country were trained on land rights, human rights, and advocacy and lobbying skills. After receiving this specialised training, the community women representatives attended a National Conference on Women’s Property and Land held in June 2012, resulting in vital improvements to the Government draft land tenure reform policy.

Who finances it?

Year Donor Amount Contributed
2009-2010 UNDP BCPR (Government of the Netherlands) US$ 3,016,001
2011 UNDP US$ 1,300,000
2011 UNDP Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund US$    350,000
2011 UN Peacebuilding Fund US$    150,000
2012 UNDP US$    600,000
2012 UNDP BCPR US$    424,578
2013-2014 Irish Aid US$  1,811,432
2015 INL US$    722,136

Delivery in previous fiscal years

Year Total Delivery
2010 US$ 1,088,340

US$ 1,555,686


US$ 1,224,358

2013 US$ 2,300,000
2014 US$ 1,313,717
2015 US$    624,079

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