Media Issues Take Center Stage at Law Day Celebration
Monrovia – It was a heated debate at the Temple of justice with less than 70 lawyers attending the LAW Day program.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson Mbayo, [email protected]
The debate popped up from a presentation on the topic ‘Media and Lawyers- Advocate for truths not adversaries’ presented by Liberia Media and Development Program- Internews.
Atty. Patrice Weah of Internews said the rule of law cannot exist without open justice and deep public confidence in the justice system and the judiciary.
Weah said publicity is the very soul of justice and the surest of all guards against improbity “the open court principle is a constitutional principle.
Nonetheless, despite the court openness, people may still have real understanding of how they operate,” he says.
Weah added that the duty and rights to report includes the right to constructively criticize the way the courts work and judges judgments.
“It would be sheer naivety not to acknowledge that incomplete, distorted or one-sided unbalanced press coverage can do lasting damage,” he notes.
The Internews legal representative said restricting access information and controlling how it’s presented leads the public to infer that the justice system has something to hide.
The presentation created mix feeling among lawyers and the justices of the Supreme Court bench.
Former Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh said the media is not independent and causes damage to one’s hard earned character.
He alleged that all stories published by an entity are either paid for or a malice against an official.
“All stories in the Liberian media is either to damage someone, paid for the boast your morale or it’s publish because you can’t give in to their cash demand, so it’s time that we start suing media houses.”
A statement, which Chief Justice Francis Korkpor supported and added that the media and the judiciary are not opponents.
Also Cllr. James E. Pierre said that some media houses are irresponsible and should not be given credence.
“If the Court close down an institution, the head re-establishes another, so I think an incentive must be given to media houses, but in so doing- some media houses are irresponsible.”
Managing Director of Inquirer Newspaper Philip Wesseh said that some judges take the court as “zoe bush” something he must be tackled by the Justices.
At the same time another topic ‘How mediation and Alternative Dispute resolution can enhance quality client service and law practice profitability’ which was presented by the president and founder of the foundation for sustainable rule of law initiatives.
He said it is the best way to settle dispute so as to lessen the burden on the court.
Meanwhile, the attendance at the law day program was not impressive according to Chief Justice.
He said it was disheartening that all judiciary activities will be cancelled in celebrating the day and lawyers fail to participate.