Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sierra Leonean Named African Human Rights Lawyer

Melron C. Nicol-Wilson, Director of the Lawyers Centre for Legal Assistance (LAWCLA) would be honoured at a UNESCO Award Ceremony at the University of Pretoria in in South Africa on the 25th May 2007.The award to him on Africa Day is for “His Academic Achievements in South Africa and subsequent to leaving South Africa, his courageous and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people in Africa; his dynamism, originality and courageous pioneering spirit and for his outstanding professional achievement which makes him epitomizes the true African Human Rights Lawyer”.

Nicol-Wilson holds a Masters Degree in Human Rights Law from the University of Pretoria in South Africa; a Masters Degree in Law with specialization in International Criminal Justice and Armed Conflict from the University of Nottingham in the UK, a postgraduate Diploma in Equal Status and Human Rights of Women from the University of Lund in Sweden and a certificate in Human Rights Teaching and Research from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strassbourg, France. He did undergraduate legal studies at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone and professional Law Studies at the Sierra Leone Law School.

The African Human Rights Lawyer is a former Human Rights Law Teaching fellow at Columbia Law School in New York; former Legal Adviser of the Anti-Corruption Commission and former Human Rights Trainer of the Namibian Police. Presently, in addition to running LAWCLA, he is also a Defence Counsel at the U.N. backed Special Court and Lecturer at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.

It could be recalled that Nicol-Wilson established the first Legal Aid Centre in Sierra Leone in 2001 and under his Directorship the Centre has provided free legal services to thousands of Sierra Leoneans. The Centre has also published a number of research documents such as Juvenile Justice in Sierra Leone – Law and Practice; Death Penalty in Sierra Leone – Time for Change; Unequal Rights: Discriminatory Laws against Women in Sierra Leone; A Handbook for Paralegals in Sierra Leone and Children in the Criminal Justice System in Sierra Leone.

In 2003 he was awarded Lawyer of the Year by AWOL and in 2005 he was awarded Child Friendly Lawyer of the Year by the National Youth Coalition and Children Forum Network.

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