Liberia’s Attorney General Urges ‘Self-Cleansing’ In Judiciary

Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean

Monrovia- During the opening of the October term of court, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor opposed the establishment of an Oversight Committee, which will give lawmakers some responsibility for the country’s judicial system.

Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]

Korkpor said such committee, when established, will directly be assailed on the doctrine of the Separation of Power as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

“We have heard a call or proposal for the establishment of a Judicial Oversight Committee within the Legislature. What surprises me is that the call is being made from an unlikely source. We shall say more on this at the appropriate time, not in the too distant future,” said Chief Justice Korkpor.

Liberia’s Minister of Justice has concurred with the Chief Justice, adding that the faith of the common man in the judicial system is shaky.
He said although the call or proposal for the establishment of a “judicial oversight committee” within the legislature will undermine the doctrine of Separation of Powers enshrined in the Constitution, the judiciary must embark on self-cleansing.

“We must work assiduously at self-policing and self-cleaning to restore the respect, faith, and confidence of the common people in our judiciary, and the rule of law.”

Cllr. Dean said courts’ judgments and actions must be grounded in and have the support of law; and must be seen as fair, judicious and impartial.

“Out courts’ judgments must carry the moral authority required to demand compliance.
“Reflecting on the role of the Judiciary in our constitutional democracy, we recall the words of Chief Justice James A.A. Pierre, speaking for the court…

“In re C. Abayomi Cassell, Counsellor-at-Law, 14 LLR 391 (1960), said: “the Judiciary is the anchor which holds stabilized government in balance; without it, vested interest might suffer, sacred rights might be violated, constituted authority might be challenged, and in fine, administrative chaos could result.”

He also noted that the bedrock of a functional judicial system is respect for the rule of law adding that precepts and orders emanating from our courts must be respected.

“Challenges relating to their legal basis and soundness must be addressed within the framework provided by law. Respect for the rule of law must be felt in our homes, in our communities, in our offices and throughout the length and breadth of the Republic,” said the Attorney General, adding that the laws must be applied and enforced, no matter against whom.

“There is a growing trend of lack of respect and adherence to the rule of law. This attitude now permeates our society and can be seen in every aspect of our existence, ranging from traffic violations to rape, murder, drug abuse, illegal strikes by workers, illegal protests and misconduct by officials of government.”

He warns that it is a “dangerous trend and threatens the peace, security and the gains made over the years.”

The justice minister said state prosecutors intend to shortly convene a meeting among various state actors and opinion leaders to include civil society, religious communities, human rights institutions, and law enforcement agencies to discuss the deteriorating trend of lawlessness in our communities.