History of Timap
In 2003, the National Forum for Human Rights and the Open Society Justice Initiative collaborated to launch a programme to deliver basic legal services at the chiefdom level through community-based paralegals called Timap for Justice. Timap was incorporated on the 10th of August, 2005.
Timap’s mission arose in response to the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which cited the maladministration of justice and the distance between the people and their government among the root causes of Sierra Leone’s civil war and a crisis still facing the country today.
Many Sierra Leoneans, especially those in remote areas, lack confidence in the legal system and the government. Courts are few, often slow, and can be incomprehensible. More significantly, the solutions offered by litigation and formal legal processes are not always the kinds of solutions the people involved desire. Recent surveys have confirmed that the majority of Sierra Leoneans prefer to use non-formal mechanisms to resolve their disputes. Yet the chiefs, mammy queens, and other traditional leaders who adjudicate these conflicts have been faulted for their excessive fines and arbitrary, often biased decisions, especially against women and other vulnerable groups.
Timap seeks to resolve the justice problems of ordinary Sierra Leoneans primarily through informal justice mechanisms, but also, in select cases, by providing access to the formal justice system. Timap’s activities concretely demonstrate that justice is possible, and seek to restore faith in government and the rule of law.
Timap has expanded its operations in several stages over the past ten years, and is continuously responding to the changing landscape of the Sierra Leonean legal system. The scale-up of justice services announced by the Government of Sierra Leone through the passage of the Legal Aid Act in 2012 endorsed Timap’s community-based approach, and Timap looks forward to seeing how the new changes lead to our further evolution.