Monrovia- There have been reports linking judges in Liberia to corruption, something the President of Trial Judges said is due to failure of Liberian judges to uphold the ethics of the profession.
Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie said if the ethics are upheld, bad perceptions will be changed.
He made the remarks when he disclosed that the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia’s (NATJL) application for membership into the international Association of Judges (IAJ) has been accepted.
“Now we are a member of the association. We judges must be careful with our attitudes because the body is watching us and our activities."
"We should do our best to handle cases effectively and efficiently.”
He further said the application was debated and subsequently approved at the recent 60th annual meeting of the IAJ.
The objective of the IAJ, according to Article 3 of the constitution, calls for safeguarding the judicial independence as an essential requirement of the judicial function and guarantee of human rights and freedom.
Judge Willie commended the Judiciary, especially Chief Justice Francis Korkpor for the avenue provided.
He disclosed that a rapporteur was sent to Liberia to observe the Independence of judges.
“After the civil war, the international crises group said the Judiciary was one of the causes of the war saying that it was a servant to the Legislature and it had no competent lawyer,
“But today we are happy that all of the judges are law school graduates, including most of the magistrates."
"The Financial Autonomy Act has also made the Judiciary not to be beggar to the other branches.”
Judge Willie disclosed that during the conference he was asked about the impeachment proceeding that was between the Judiciary and the Legislative branches and the allegation of bailiff of the court reportedly involved in corruption.
He says IAJ is also concerned about the pension of judges in Liberia.
“There is no adequate pension for judges and there is likelihood for them to be corrupt."
"A judge makes US$3,000 to 4,000 and if you are retired, you are paid LD$7,000. I think this is degrading.”
He stated that because of this very small retirement money, most judges, according to him, usually decide to hustle while serving as a judge.
“This is one of the issues we have raised and since we have the support of the IAJ, we as an association will make sure that the pension of judges well deserve.
“If we want the IAJ to back us we should also abide by the rules and ethics of the profession.
“I was called yesterday to advice one of our members. Some of the judges aren’t living up to their mandate.”
The NATJL president stated that it was time that they take actions in the interest of the ethics.
“We should be ethical. There are rules governing court and the association and we should abide by those ethics.”
Judge Willie said Liberia is the 85th out of 87 members of the IAJ.