DELIVERING A POIGNANT speech in observance of Law Day recently, in the Conference Hall of the Ministerial Complex, Congo Town, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe , President of the Liberian National Bar Association, urged the United States government and the European Union to deny visas to officials of all three branches of the Liberian government as a means of curtailing massive looting of state resources in Liberia.
SAID CLLR. GONGLOE: “In order to curtail the freedom of theft in Liberia, I reiterate on this day my call to the American Government on behalf of the Liberian National Bar Association to deny visas to officials and employees of government in the three branches of the Liberian Government who are deemed to be corrupt based on lifestyle audits. I make the same appeal to the European Union on this Law Day. America and Europe must not make themselves co-conspirators in the theft that is going in Liberia by granting access to corrupt officials and employees of the government to spend money stolen from the Liberian people in their countries.
THE CALL FROM the head of the LNBA comes at a rather defining moment in Liberia’s history. Crimes are at an all-time high, theft of state resources continue to rise as more and more Liberians languish at the bottom of the economic ladder.
AT THE SAME PROGRAM, Mr. Michael McCarthy, the US Ambassador in Monrovia, while welcoming Liberia’s National Risk Assessment Report prepared by authorities in the Anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime, called for adequate financial support for Liberia Financial Intelligence Unit to enhance the implementation of its duties effectively and also engage the activities planned in the Action Plan that originates from the validated National Risk Assessment Report.
AMBASSADOR MCCARTHY emphasized that the fight against money laundering and countering terrorist financing requires adequate and regular financial support from the Liberian Government, void of delay.
ALL THIS AS Liberia continues to decline in the fight against corruption.
ACCORDING TO THE most recent Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report released by Transparency International, the Global Coalition against Corruption, Liberia’s score has significantly dropped. Liberia now ranks 137/180 and sits further down the table compared to its 2018 rank of 120/180.
DUE TO GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE and lapses in the fight against corruption, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) recently expressed dismay over the country’s rating in the latest Corruption Perception Index 2019.
IN ORDER FOR officials, appointed and/or elected to be guarded against the various vices that tend to draw them toward the ills like corruption, key stakeholders must begin putting deterrents in place to curb graft.
WE AGREE with Cllr. Gongloe that such deterrents must include denying of visas to members of the three branches of government and hold them responsible for what is unfolding in their respective branches.
THE JUDICIARY BRANCH of government has been a sore eye for years. The recent US State Department report concluded: “Judges sometimes solicited bribes to try cases, grant bail to detainees, award damages in civil cases, or acquit defendants in criminal cases. Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, and jurors, or to have court staff place cases on the docket for trial.”
ADDITIONALLY, according to the Human Rights report, some judicial officials and prosecutors appeared subject to pressure, and the outcome of some trials appeared to be predetermined, especially when the accused persons were politically connected or socially prominent.
EVEN THE LEGISLATIVE branch of government has had a lot of incidents involving corruption amongst lawmakers.
IF LIBERIA IS TO truly turn the corner for the better, all must be done to ensure that the laws of the land are enforced to all, regardless of class or status.
TOO MANY LIVES have been lost over the years and too many innocent victims have had to deal with the complexities of life that all too often leave many stranded on the road to recovery
FOR LIBERIA, time is of the essence. A little push from the diplomatic circle toward the direction of instituting checks and balances would go along with instilling fear among those trying to deprive Liberians of the resources needed to build infrastructures like schools, roads, and electricity. ANYTHING SHORT of that will only cushion a circle of impunity that continues to keep Liberia in the doldrums of the bottomless pit with very little hope – or room for errors.