TIMAP – Sierra Leone

Established in 2003, Timap for Justice was the first paralegal network in Sierra Leone. After more than a decade, Timap’s philosophy of inclusion and ownership remains unchanged: all Sierra Leoneans can contribute to – and benefit from – better access to justice. Timap continues to work with local communities, traditional authorities, and government institutions. Timap’s Model responds to the complexities of Sierra Leone’s dualist legal structure and shortage of practicing lawyers by employing community-based paralegals. Recruited from local communities and trained by seasoned lawyers, they operate with the sanction of the governing chiefs and traditional leaders. In civil justice cases, the paralegals receive individual cases, educate clients on legal recourse options, provide dispute resolutions services where appropriate, and conduct follow up. Concurrently, they organize community dialogue meetings and mobile clinics in order to identify, address, and educate on community-wide justice issues. For criminal justice cases, the paralegals rotate among the police stations, courts, and correctional centres in order to assist detainees with issues such as bail or legal representation. In cases of severe injustice, paralegals refer cases for litigation. Timap selects cases that have the potential to set important precedents, especially those involving vulnerable individuals