Liberia: Senate to Decide Merit or Demerit of Bill to Impeach Justice Ja’neh after One Calendar Week
Monrovia – In keeping with Rule 66 of the Liberian Senate, Senators will need a calendar week or more to decide on whether they should commence hearing on the Impeachment Bill submitted to them by the House of Representatives.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Last week, Plenary of the Liberian Senate voted on a motion to establish an expanded Judiciary Committee that will be charged with the responsibility of formulating rules and procedure for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
The committee is being chaired by Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County.
Rule 66 section 2: “All proposed amendment(s) must be circulated to all Senators one calendar week prior to calling it on the floor.”
Because the Committee submitted its report on Thursday, September 13, members of the Senate could not go ahead with the proceeding because doing so would have been against their own rules.
At the beginning of the debate, Plenary rejected request by the expanded committee for debates on the report to be done in Executive Session. In the Committee’s argument for secret session, senators, who will sit as jurors on the impeachment trial of Justice Ja’neh, could make comments, which could remotely compromise their impartiality if and when they get off with the main impeachment proceedings.
The report consists of two parts, which include a proposed amendment to Rule 63 to make it compatible with the constitution and to clarify the procedure for the impeachment of any public official; and a proposed timeline for the conduct of the impeachment trial of Justice Ja’neh.
“Colleagues, we also wish to caution all of us that we conduct the impeachment trial of Justice Ja’neh in a manner that brings honor to both houses of the Legislature. Let’s not do it in a manner that exposed the Liberian Senate of the 52nd Legislature to ridicule and public disrepute for the errors they committed in various provisions of Rule 63 when they adopted the Senate Standing Rules during the 2nd day sitting of the 4th session of the Senate, March 30, 2009,” Sen. Sherman told his colleagues.
His committee cautioned plenary that whatever they do with respect to the impeachment, it must not expose the current House of Representatives to ridicule and public disrepute because of some individual perceptions in the manner and form in which they conducted their process.
“We should be mindful that while we are two separate Houses, we are of one and the same legislature and must cooperate to ensure that our actions are fair and predictable and the product of our work jointly done.
“We think that what is overwhelmingly important is that Justice Ja’neh is accorded his maximum ‘due process rights’ as enshrined in the Constitution.”