Liberia: Supreme Court Calms Nerves Ahead of General Elections, Promises to Dispense Justice Evenly in Elections Disputes without Fear or Favor
Monrovia – As the presidential and legislative elections draw closer, the Supreme of Liberia has assured Liberians that it will dispense justice without fear or favor in every electoral matter that will be brought before it.
By Victoria G Wesseh, Contributing Writer
Delivering a special statement on Monday, March 13, at the opening of the March Term of Court, Chief Justice, Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh indicated that the Supreme Court is a light tower in the midst of a storm and is well fortified and judicially poised to hear and dispose of any election dispute regardless of the magnitude or underlying currents.
Chief Justice Yuoh asked political parties and independent candidates to safeguard themselves with the best and astute lawyers who will exert their best in prosecuting or defending a candidate or political party’s interests.
She said the in consonance with the Supreme Court’s Opinion which states: “It is incumbent on a candidate in an election to ensure that he/she has in place qualified legal team so that in the event he/she believes that an election violation has occurred, he/she would be in the position to adequately take advantage of the law, especially with the timeframe prescribed by the law for asserting a challenge and timely appealing from any decision related to the challenge since electoral challenges are special proceedings which must be heard expeditiously.”
The Chief Justice further cautioned all political candidates that if their lawyers fail to perfect their appeal, the High Court, via a motion from the opposing party, will dismiss said case.
“If your case is shrouded with mere allegations, speculations, and doubts, rather than evidence, the Supreme Court will reject your claim, ” states the Chief Justice.
She averred that as the elections draw closer, it should be made known that the Yuoh’s Bench will only be moved by strong and convincing evidence and not political ideologies, crowds or the recently created political slang on strong holds.
The Liberian Chief Justice maintained that the Court has consistently held that “the concept of a candidate claiming ‘strong hold’ over a particular election geographical locale, finds no factual or legal basis in judicial proceeding as it is completely doubtful, uncertain, and speculative in that only the electorates via their valid votes cast can determine whether or not a candidate is widely influential in a particular locale.
She added: “Hence, this allegation being speculative and uncertain is untenable as voting in elections within our jurisdiction is done by secret ballot.”
For his part, Liberia’s Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean re-echoed Chapter III of the Liberian Constitution, which defines a broad range of fundamental rights, and further declares, “All persons are equal before the law and therefore entitled to equal protection of the law.”
Minister Dean warned Liberians against the preaching of hate messages and slender in the name of exercising their rights contained in Article 15 of the Constitution, the right to freedom of expression.
Article 15 of the Liberian constitution states that “every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof.”
According to Minister Dean with the advent of social media, the practicalization of this right has taken a new and dangerous trend.
He noted that there now appears to be freedom, without the corresponding onus of responsibility.
“Like weapons placed in the hands of kids, people are running amok, slandering and threatening others. Hate speech is on the rise. We are reminded of Radio Kigali in Rwanda,” he stated.
Minister Dean cautioned the Judiciary to take due note of this unfortunate development which poses a challenge to law enforcement.