Liberia’s Justice Minister To Meet Civil Society, Human Rights Groups In Order to Mitigate Lawlessness
Reported by Kennedy L. Yangian [email protected]
Monrovia – Liberia’s Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean is troubled by the trend of lawlessness in the country and has planned to shortly meet with state actors including human rights and opinion leaders to discuss means of mitigation the situation.
Minister Dean made the disclosure Monday, October 8, 2018 at the opening ceremony of the October Term of the Supreme Court in his capacity as Attorney General and Dean of the Supreme Court Bar.
His call comes amid media reports of lawlessness taking place in several parts of the country.
“There is a growing trend of lack of respect and adherence to the rule of law,” he said.
“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.”
Dean stressed that the situation is a dangerous trend that threatens the peace and security of the country as well as the gains made over the years.
As Attorney General, Dean called for training of prosecutors and judges as the system under which the lawyers and judges operate needs to be reformed and some of the laws amended to meet present day realities.
According to the Attorney General, if these reforms of the Judiciary are done combined with the training of magistrates, City Solicitors and other judicial officers, it will go a long way in improving the system and enhance access to justice.
Dean elaborated that the Justice Ministry is in the process or reviewing critical areas that are vital to enhancing access to justice and the rule of law.
He mentioned the amendments in the Criminal Procedure Law to provide for longer jury sitting days so that prosecutors and judges in the leeward counties can remain in their respective jurisdictions for a longer period of time as well as prosecute and hear as many cases as possible.
According to Cllr. Dean, the Ministry of Justice is also reviewing the Criminal Procedure Law, particularly the provision relating to arrest and incarceration of party litigants by magistrates on the strength of complaint by a party without reference to the Ministry of Justice or the Liberia National Police (LNP).
It has been found out that there is a direct correlation between pre-trial detention, prison over-crowdness on the one hand and imprisonment on the orders of magistrates without any reference to the Ministry of Justice on the other hand, he said.
The Justice Minister mentioned that there is another plan to amend the Criminal Procedure Law to provide plea bargain as in other jurisdictions around the world where prosecutors and lawyers for the accused are given the opportunity to negotiate and work out plan for the accused to plea guilty to a lesser offence in exchange for a lesser sentence.
He said this process, when implemented under proper supervision, will cut back on lengthy trials and reduce the cost associated with protracted litigations.