Kent and Sierra Leone students in law clinic partnership

Sandy Fleming

An ongoing partnership between Kent Law Clinic and a law clinic in Sierra Leone is enhancing the legal education of law students from both countries.

Students at the Canterbury campus yesterday sent nearly 400 second-hand law text books to their fellow students at the law clinic at the University of Makeni (UNIMAK).

Sierra Leone has much in common with UK laws with the two countries sharing legal procedure, case-law and statute.

Staff and students at the Kent Law Clinic were initially asked to help research a number of legal points relating to criminal cases being defended by students and volunteer lawyers at UNIMAK three years ago.

However, last year the relationship was disrupted after the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone when 3,590 people in the country died. UNIMAK was temporarily closed. Kent law students raised £1,000 by holding fund raising events to help students and staff there. Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free in November 2015.

The research work carried out by Kent students since the partnership began has been enthusiastically praised with their input described by the clinic administrator who helped establish the UNIMAK law clinic as ‘simply excellent’.

Professor John Fitzpatrick, Director of the Kent Law Clinic, said the collaboration between Kent and UNIMAK has been an enriching experience.

The law text books were sent to Makeni by the UK Sierra Leone Pro Bono Network, an initiative that unites leading UK barristers, judges, solicitors’ firms and government lawyers in providing pro bono assistance to the legal profession and institutions of Sierra Leone.