Justice Minister Wants Equal Access to Public Facilities For All Political Parties
Monrovia – In October 2017, which is just six months away, Liberians across the 15 sub-political divisions are expected to go to a third post conflict Presidential and Legislative election.
Report by Kennedy L. Yangian – [email protected]
However, the need to have peaceful elections free of violence has been a concern of several Liberians with Justice Minister Frederick Cherue becoming the latest public official calling for a violence free election.
Minister Cherue in a Frontpageafrica interview in Gbarnga Bong County over the weekend at the first Judicial retreat stated that one of the mechanisms he feels could be the best remedy to curb violence during the October Presidential and Legislative elections is when all political parties and actors are given equal access to all public facilities.
Though , the Justice Minister did not name the public facilities he wants political actors to have equal access to, of late there have been reports of opposition political parties being barred from using the only state radio in the country, the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) to air their views.
An action which has been condemned by civil society and advocacy groups in the country.
“There is a need to give all political actors equal access to public facilities in-fact I have already told my officers not to prevent anyone or political parties from using any public facilities during the election “said Cherue.
The Justice Minister stressed that it is incumbent upon every Liberian to ensure a peaceful election by their conduct during the election period and iterated that the media too have a pivotal role to play in having peaceful elections by avoiding airing violent messages.
On the issue of the judicial retreat, Justice Minister Cherue lauded the authority of the Judiciary headed by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor for organizing the Judicial retreat, adding that the judicial should see the need to organize retreats for other judicial actors including lawyers.
In addressing comments made by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Political and Rule of Law, Waldemar Very, that pre-trial detainees in the country was high at 69% as of April 2017 and that if a strategy is not put into place to reduce it the security and peace of the country will be at risk, the Justice Minister stated that there is a need for NGO intervention concerning prisoner representation to help with the backlog because some of the prisoners are in jail because they cannot afford lawyers.
The Justice Minister agreed with the UN Deputy boss on the presence of pre-trial detainees in prison, but stated that the Ministry of Justice has embarked on assessing the cases of some pre-trial detainees to have them released. He however noted some are released and become repeat offenders.
“We have been releasing some of these prisoners but when five persons are released, the next day we will be receiving 10 more persons, our youths nowadays are involved in all kinds of crime,” said Minister Cherue.