Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada has joined forces with the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC), in an effort to re-build Sierra Leone’s legal research infrastructure by providing high quality text books, practitioners’ materials, law reports and electronic resources to two law libraries in Freetown, Sierra Leone:

the High Court library. The High Court is the site of civil and ordinary criminal trials in Sierra Leone, and;

the Special Court library. The Special Court was created under a United Nations Security Council mandate, at the request of and by agreement with, the government of Sierra Leone to try cases involving crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.

The High Court library, previously Sierra Leone principal law library was destroyed during the country’s ten-year civil war. Andrew Hall, QC of BHRC remarks, “Everything is in demand!! The High Court Library was burned down in the civil war and the collections in virtually every other law library, and held by practitioners, have been lost or destroyed. Lawyers simply do not have access to books – it is as simple as that.”

In a separate initiative, the British Council is funding the reconstruction of the High Court library space.

LRWC and BHRC are also providing resource material to the new Special Court library. The law library of the Special Court-like its buildings, registry, and other infrastructure-will devolve to Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Justice at the end of the Court’s mandate. Members of the legal profession and advocates/researchers from non-governmental organizations currently have, and will continue to have, access to the collections.

Canadian law firms and law book publishers have been so generous that LRWC now urgently needs to find more money to ship the approximately 6,000 pounds of excellent legal texts and law reports (primarily in the areas of criminal and human rights law) and to fly the project coordinator to Freetown.

In Ontario, Ogilvy Renault, Toronto Office, has donated sets of Supreme Court Reports, Dominion Law Reports, All England Law Reports and a number of other useful resources, including a fully updated version of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (3rd). Judicial Library Services of the Ontario Superior Courts made a significant donation of textbooks and studies by the Canada Law Reform Commission. Canada Law Book, which donated brand new copies of the multi-volume Annotated Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, McWilliams’s Canadian Criminal Evidence, Ewaschuk’s Criminal Pleadings and Practice in Canada and many other useful books.

In Alberta, Fraser, Milner Casgrain LLP, Edmonton Office, donated sets of the Administrative Law Reports, US Supreme Court Reports, and a number of significant text books.

In British Columbia, Blake, Cassels, Graydon LLP, Vancouver Office, donated volumes of the Canadian Rights Reporter and Charter of Rights Decisions, along with approximately 60 useful and varied textbooks. Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, Vancouver Office, donated copies of the Canadian Sentencing Digest and a copy of the ever-useful Corbin on Contracts. The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia generously donated 20 new texts and Manuals, including the latest version of the British Columbia Civil Trial Handbook and Managing Your Law Firm.

Donated books will provide a lasting resource for the legal community in Sierra Leone and contribute to restoring Freetown as a principal centre for African legal scholarship and research.

LRWC and BHRC view the Sierra Leone Library Project as part of an ongoing commitment to establish working links between Canadian, British and African lawyers. This is particularly exciting and timely in view of the 25 January 2004 creation of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Donations of money are urgently needed for shipping books and sending LRWC project manager to Freetown. Donors will receive a tax receipt, a copy of the final Sierra Leone Library Project report. Donations can be made by Visa, cash or cheque.


For more information on the Sierra Leone Library Project or to make a donation please contact:

Monique Pongracic-Speier

LRWC Project Co-ordinator, Sierra Leone Library Project

Schroeder & Company

1119-808 Nelson Street

Vancouver, B.C. V6Z 2H2

Fax: (604) 688-0271

Tel: (604) 688-6737