In January I began my internship in Freetown at the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL). My main responsibilities relate to monitoring the juvenile and magistrate courts, alongside writing and editing reports on the national judicial system for CARLs monthly newsletter, newspapers and working group projects that CARL participates in. In addition to these routine responsibilities, I have also had the opportunity to attend a number of conferences in Freetown and the province of Bo. Over the past twelve weeks, I have attended local, national and international conferences as a note taker and gotten to experience some pretty awesome things. Attending conferences is my favorite aspect of my placement for five main reasons:
1. Attending conferences is a great reason to travel, or even just spend the day outside of the office! It’s always fun to discover different parts of the city, or travel to another region. During my second week, I attended a conference hosted by CARL in Bo, which required traveling half way across the country, allowing me to see the different beautiful landscapes of Salone.
2. Conferences promote networking and enable you to meet and learn from so many great people. I have been opportune to meet, work with and listen to presentations from local government officials, lawyers, policy makers, judges and program directors of many organizations… I even got to see President Koroma give a speech at the Women’s Day Conference!
3. By attending international conferences, I have been able gain different cultural perspectives on relevant international criminal justice issues. In February I attended the Legacy Conference for the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), which was held by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). Presenters and participants came from countries all over the world, including, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Ireland and England.
4. I have been able to gain experience in presenting and participating in a conference setting. During the CARL conference in Bo, I participated by presenting the conference summary and closing remarks. In another instance, I was able to represent CARL in the process of nominating and voting in the new National Legal Aid Board.
5. Lastly, attending conferences provides important ideas and facts for writing my articles and reports. Being exposed to current events and national issues has contributed to my general sense of social awareness.
With only four weeks of my placement remaining, I am hoping I will get to enjoy a few more conferences before leaving Sierra Leone. In Freetown you never know who you will meet or what kind of opportunities will arise on any given day!
Kelsey Lizotte interns for the Centre for Accountanility and Rule of Law from January to May 2013.