‘Arrest With Probable Cause’: Liberia Police, Magistrates Warned

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Monrovia – Police, Magistrates of the Court of First Instant and Judges have been warned at the opening of the May Term of Court not to arrest or detain anyone without a probable cause as it does not warrant transparent justice.

In Liberia, the law requires that in the prosecution of alleged perpetrators of crimes, investigation starts firstly with the Police before onward submission to the court.

The law also gives the Police the right to arrest, investigate and charge suspects and forward them to court within the period of 48-hr when there is a probable cause.

The caveat was sent out Monday by Judge Gee-Plah Tiklo Konton, the newly assigned Judge of Criminal Court “D” at the Temple of Justice, marking the opening of the 2016 May Term of Court at the Temple of Justice.

Held under the theme: “Promoting The Rule of Law”, the Judge said the court is a place for the attainment of peace and it is the responsibility of all judicial actors to ensure that peace prevails as the establishment of the court has helped to curb lawlessness in the society.

“Magistrates, you have to examine those cases that come before you for a probable cause,” he said. “Conduct your preliminary hearing, if there is no probable cause go ahead and dismiss the case.”

Delivering his charge, he cautioned law enforcement officials to ensure that the communities also play a role to avoid acts which undermine the rule of law.

On the issue of the adjudication of cases, the Judge stated that the hearing and determination of cases are not the responsibilities of Judges alone—it requires the input of jurors who are Judges of facts.

He frowned on lawyers  who doesn’t follow up with their clients’ cases, saying the court doesn’t look for cases—it is party litigants who bring cases to court.

Associate Justice, Sie- Nyeneh Youh, who represented the Supreme Court during the opening ceremony, disputed the notion in some quarters that the Supreme Court is in the habit of penalizing Judges for their opinion/rulings.

“Let me say that the Supreme Court does not penalize any Judge for his or her ruling,” she said. “The Supreme Court penalizes Judges who carried out deliberate disregard for the principle of law.”

She warned lawyers who constantly paint a different picture of the Supreme Court to their clients whenever they have failed to live up to the appeal process, adding the High Court will dismiss any case which fails to meet the appeal requirement.

Kennedy L. Yangian [email protected]

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