Supreme Court of Liberia Temporarily Halts Pres. Weah’s New Appointment to the International Maritime Organization
Monrovia – A decision by President George Manneh Weah to suddenly end the tenure of Atty. Isaac Jackson at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) by making new appointment has been temporarily stalled by the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Atty. Jackson who believes that the President is acting in error and in violation of the law petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Prohibition on the President’s latest appointment to the IMO.
In a 17-count petition, lawyers representing Atty. Jackson argued that Part II, Section 7 (4) of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) Act says the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Maritime Authority shall have tenures of five years in in order to ensure and preserve consistency in the leadership, maintain continuity of purpose, increase capacity in the industry and preserve the national and international relevance and very competitive nature of the maritime program.
He informed the Court that he was appointed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf under the LMA Act as Permanent Representative to the IMO, which in the organogram of the LMA is Deputy Commissioner. Said appointment was made on September 13, 2016 and he was commissioned on October 28, 2016.
He noted that the position of a Permanent Representative is legally and historically a Deputy Commissioner, which is tenured for five years under the Liberia Maritime Act of 2010, evident by the stay of previous Liberians who served in the capacity.
According to him, he has spent only a year and nine months of his five-year tenure at the IMO. Within this period, Atty. Jackson boasted of working to place Liberia in a leadership role of the IMO for the first time since the country’s membership with the organization.
“Not only was he honored to be received by and met with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but was also successful in ensuring that Liberia maintained her seat on the IMO Council with a higher number of votes than in previous elections. Currently, as head of the Liberian delegation, he is leading an effort along with 11 other Member States, co-sponsoring a document (Document C120/45) which he hopes will lead to a reform of the IMO Council, a reform which Liberia will benefit,” the petition informed the Court.
The petition noted that with the face of these achievements, it is glaring that Atty. Jackson is only being removed for political reasons.
The LMA Act states in Section 7 (7) that “The Commissioner shall be subject to removal or suspension form his position by the President of Liberia, on the recommendation of the Board, for nonperformance, for dishonesty, or any offense in violation of the Liberian criminal laws or as a result of the outcome of a due process investigation, or a showing of complete disregard for international treaties and conventions to which Liberia is a party, or on grounds of verified physical, mental or administrative incapacity. Any suspension or removal shall be without prejudice to any criminal sanctions, which may be imposed upon trial or conviction…”
Following the review of his petition, Justice in Chamber, Her Honor Jamesetta Wolokollie, cited for a conference Justice Minister, Frank Musa Dean, Cllr. Arthur Johnson who represents the legal interest of Atty. Jackson and other relevant parties.
The conference would be held on Tuesday, July 10. Till then, all proceeding regarding the new appointment to the IMO has been halted by the Supreme Court.
Speaking on the Court’s decision, Atty. Jackson said, “We applaud the first impressive step by the Honorable Supreme Court to issue the Stay Order in our favor. This action serves as a stark reminder to some of our friends that Liberia is a democracy, governs by laws, and not men.
I knew the issue of breaking the law would have been an important concern to the Justices of the Honorable Supreme Court Bench.”