Liberia: Senate Judiciary Committee Takes Over Impeachment Proceedings
Monrovia – The Liberian Senate Tuesday, September 4 voted in favor of a motion for the Senate Judiciary Committee to take charge of the notice of impeachment sent to them by the House of Representatives on the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
Report by Henry Karm, [email protected]
The decision is in continuation of the ongoing debate over procedure leading to the process of impeachment. Lawmakers and legal luminaries have argued that the process leading to the crafting of a bill of impeachment has been marred by procedural errors.
On Thursday in honor of responsibility given them by the Senate, the Senate Judiciary committee forwarded to its plenary several recommendations including the revision of rules of the Senate on impeachment and related matter and complement the Senate rules with other rules and procedures to ensure adherence to the principle of due process as enshrined in the constitution and laws of Liberia.
The committee also recommended that the Senate prepares a matric of activities with timelines for the trial of impeachment, and report to plenary through the Senate leadership within a week of endorsement of the briefing by plenary.
Prior to the decision for Judiciary committee to take over the issue, there were diverse views expressed by senators on the matter.
Some were totally against the procedure used by the House of Representatives to prepare the impeachment, citing Article 43 of the Liberian Constitution.
Some senator including Nyounblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County, Armah Jallah of Gbapolu County, George Tengbeh of Lofa County, and Milton Teahjay amongst others highlighted procedure error during the debate.
Senators’ Individual position
Said Tingbah: “We cannot go further with this impeachment without knowing what the procedurals are.”
Like Tengbeh, Senator Jallah of Gbapolu added: “We need to leave the whole thing if there is no procedural because to do that right now will be doing expo- facto.”
For his part senator, Senator Gble-Gbo Brown said, “This is the first time in contemporary Liberia that an impeachment is being witnessed or discussed. We have received notice from the house. Our Rule 63 says they should send their managers, the committee should advice plenary whether we are correct to go-ahead giving the circumstances of stay order placed on the House by the Supreme Court.”
In another comment from Senator Francis Paye of River-Cess County, he called for a conference committee between the two houses to amicably resolve the issue.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence asserted that if there is an impeachment bill, it should be done properly.
“If there will be an impeachment the Senate has two major roles…as far as we are concern, the Senate has no impeachment bill on this floor from the House of Representatives. If the notice that came, came with an impeachment bill than it should go back and if it is coming it should come properly because impeachment is a disruption of the Constitution.”
She also recommended to the plenary for the strengthening of the Judiciary committee.
Currently, the Committee is chair by Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, Co-chairs Steve Zargo of Lofa County while Morris Saytumah is a member of the committee.
She also called is to strengthen the committee and make it more efficient.
Senator Dan Morias of Maryland County believes Liberia is at a crossroad of defending the sovereignty and integrity of Liberia and that the Senate will make irreparable damages if we don’t handle the issue properly.
“Let’s address this issue vow of petty shenanigans and do away with malice.”
For Senator Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County, the non-appearance of the House of Representatives before the Supreme Court is an affronted to the Supreme Court.
“If the Supreme Court is the final arbitrator of justice, says stop and you refused and then have an outcome of the process, the court tells you not to proceed with can the outcome of that process be accepted?”