-As Rep Snowe warns of possible sanctions
Barely a week after the ECOWAS Court awarded impeached Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh US$200,000 as reparation for moral prejudice he suffered for the violation of his rights, Bomi County Rep. Edwin Snowe wants the Liberian government to negotiate with Ja’neh and solve the problem to avoid ECOWAS sanctions.
“So my only suggestion is, let’s negotiate, let’s sit down, let’s find a way, let’s get some elders involved, let’s find a way and we pay this man some of his money. I know it is difficult to say we pay him everything,” Mr. Snowe, a senatorial candidate of Bomi County told local broadcaster Truth FM Monday, 16 November.
Snowe also suggests that Mr. Ja’neh could also be seeking restoration of his license to practice law here as part of the negotiation, warning that it is not in Liberia’s best interest to be seen to be at loggerhead with the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
“I’m sure one of the things he wants too is not to be debarred to not practice law in his own country. You negotiate, you solve these problems, you move on. I hear people challenging the ECOWAS Court and say, oh, ECOWAS can’t force it,” he notes.
“It’s true ECOWAS can’t force it, but … you talk about the elections today in Liberia, ECOWAS has a team here to bring credibility to the election by helping to clean up the voter roll,” Rep. Snowe reminds Liberians.
He continues that there are lot of technical support that Liberia enjoys from ECOWAS, saying to be at loggerhead with the regional body could affect the country.
Rep. Snowe indicates that Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. SaymaSyreniusCephus has been at the ECOWAS Court and he is aware that it is not a court of appeal, in a apparent reaction to the top lawyer’s utterances against the court’s decision which appear to show defiance.
Snowe warns that people should make no mistake, recalling that Liberia is a signatory to the statutes that created the ECOWAS Court of Justice, thereby subjecting itself to the jurisdiction of the court.
“You wouldn’t be a member of a body or an organization and when there’s something against you then you say no, I don’t respect the decision or I don’t respect the institution, and when there’s something in your favor, then you respect the decision or the institution,” he says.
Snowe says though he is not a lawyer, but as ECOWAS Parliamentarian, he knows the workings of the court, emphasizing that there is no appeal but the court’s decision is final.
“So what could happen? There could be sanctions! Now when people talk about sanction, everybody thinks it’s economic sanction. Not necessarily. You have statutory positions in ECOWAS …, so those statutory positions you could be denied of some of those statutory positions,” he cautions.
He adds that Liberia could be deprived of some of the technical assistance that ECOWAS can give, warning that “it is not in Liberia’s best interest to be seen at loggerhead with ECOWAS Court of Justice.”
He states that the politics of it is not something that Liberia can benefit from, suggesting that Liberia should negotiate with impeached Justice Ja’neh to find a way out of this.
According to Snowe, in other situations negotiation have been reached with parties who have won cases at the ECOWAS court, citing the situations with the Gambian Chief Justice winning a case, former Sierra Leone vice president under President Ernest BaiKoroma and other instances in the region.
In reaching its decision regarding Justice Ja’neh, Rep. Snowe observes that the court acknowledged that replacement has been made on the Supreme Court bench after Ja’neh’s removal through impeachment proceedings.
However, he says the regional court ordered Ja’neh’s reinstatement, but it also gave another option that the government here pays his benefits from the time government stopped paying him up to his retirement age.
He concludes that his only suggestion is that the government should sit down and negotiate with Ja’neh, pay him some of his money, restore his legal license and move on.
Snowe’s caution comes after the ECOWAS Court of Justice last week ordered the Republic of Liberia to pay Cllr. KabinehJan’neh, an impeached Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the sum US$200, 000 as reparation for moral prejudice suffered for the violation of his rights.
Delivering judgment on Tuesday, 10 November, the Court also ordered the Republic of Liberia to restore, calculate and pay to Ja’neh all his withheld entitlements, including salaries, allowances and pension benefits as from the date of his impeachment to the date of notification of the Court’s judgment.
It further ordered his reinstatement as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court or in the alternative, to grant him the right to retire from service on the date of notification of the judgment of the Court with full pension’s benefits as if he had retired at the normal retirement age for justices of the Supreme Court.
Ja’neh in filling his complaint before the ECOWAS Court had sought to be awarded general damages in an amount not less than US$25,000,000.00 as compensation and an order directing the Republic of Liberia to restore him to his position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia.
He also asked the court to declare that the entire impeachment trial, conviction and replacement on the Supreme Court constitute violations of his rights to fair hearing, dignity of his person and work under equitable and satisfactory conditions, among others.
But the Republic of Liberia represented by the Solicitor General Cllr. SaymaSyreniusCephus denied violating the human rights of Mr. Ja’neh and submitted that the impeachment was done through a political process which also followed the due process of law as laid down in Section 43 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. The State urged the Court to declare that Ja’neh’s application is inadmissible because the Community Court is incompetent to review, interpret and apply the national constitution and domestic laws of Member States.
By Winston W. Parley