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Liberia: Solicitor General Delays Ja’neh’s Complaint Hearing at ECOWAS Court; Asks for More Time

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Former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh believes his impeachment trial at the Liberian Senate was ill-intentioned

FLORIDA – The Government of Liberia is not prepared with its defense to challenge former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh at the ECOWAS Court of Justice and has therefore appealed to the Court for extension of time to file its statement of defense.

According to Liberia’s Solicitor General, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus told the Community Court the request for extension is due to the convening of a special session by the Legislature to attend to important matters of the state. He also told the Court that some staff in possession of the impeachment records are not assessible as they are on leave.

He told the Court the delay is not in any way intended to baffle the court with delays.

In August this year, former Associate Justice Ja’neh filed a complaint before the Ecowas Community Court of Justice asking the Court to declare the impeachment trial as a violation of his inalienable rights to fair and impartial public trial guaranteed to every human being by the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Eights and the universal declaration of human rights.

“So, we are saying that not only the constitution was flouted, but the whole arrangement where they had the senators sitting to hear the testimonies from the lower house, all of this constituted to ensure that I did not get any fair hearing. And this is a violation of my rights, and that is why we have decided to proceed the way we are now proceeding.”

Cllr. Kabineh Ja’neh, Former Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Liberia

Mr. Ja’neh in an interview with the VOA in August said he was seeking the Court to make a declaration to the effect that the entire [impeachment] process was unfair.

Ja’neh: “We asked some senators, who had been involved in this process at some point in time to recuse themselves; they also refused.  So, all they wanted to do was to ensure that at the end there was this trial impeachment trial, and that I be removed from the court.  

The Solicitor General told the Community Court he needed an extension of 15 days to file the Government’s defense because Legislative workers in possession of the impeachment files were on leave

“In my judgment, it is believable that there were other motivations, but I do not wish to speculate on those because I do not have in my possession any empirical evidence to support that.”

He said, under Article 43 of Liberia’s Constitution, the Legislature is required to set a rule of procedure for impeachment. Ja’neh informed the VOA that said procedure is intended to guide the impeachment process. However, the Judiciary and the Legislature, according to him, elected to ignore that constitutional mandate and proceeded with what they called “amended rules 63” to govern the impeachment process.

“So, we are saying that not only the constitution was flouted, but the whole arrangement where they had the senators sitting to hear the testimonies from the lower house, all of this constituted to ensure that I did not get any fair hearing. And this is a violation of my rights, and that is why we have decided to proceed the way we are now proceeding,” Ja’neh said.

Ja’neh further added: “The whole thing was intended just to produce one result, and that is to say, he will be removed irrespective of procedures required under the law and in keeping with Article 43, which says that you must prescribe rules, procedures. So, in the absence of that, how do you conduct a fair trial? And that’s our point.”

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