Liberia’s Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. has urged journalists accredited to the Judiciary to report the truth, assuring them that nothing is done in secrecy at that branch of government.
Addressing dozens of judicial reporters at the climax of a five – day intensive Specialized Judicial Reporting training at the Temple of Justice Saturday, 13 April, Chief Justice Korkpor cautions participants to seek clarity with the Judicial Public Information office if there is an issue that they do not understand.
“We know that in a democratic situation, it’s better for the people to … speak out,” he says, and emphasizes that journalists must “just report the truth.”
“You and I have the responsibility to protect the institutions of government,” Chief Justice Korkpor challenges journalists here.
With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Liberia Media Development (LMD) program, Internews has provided the opportunity for Judicial Reporters to go through a five – day intensive specialized training at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
The training covered the Role of the Judiciary in the Context of the Rule of Law and National Development, the Techniques and the Dos and Don’ts in Reporting Litigation, the Layers of the Court System, Legal Jargons, among others.
Chief Justice Korkpor notes that personally given his background in human rights advocacy, he thinks it is good for the democracy for the people to talk, but warns that it shouldn’t be rampantly done especially where it affects the institution.“If you report correctly, it helps the society,” he cautions journalists.
Expressing his gratitude to USAID and Internews for the training of the judicial reporters, Chief Justice Korkpor reveals that he readily welcomed the idea because he thinks there’s need for more of these kinds of training “for our press people.”
He re-emphasizes the need for more training of journalists, and further stresses the need for the heads of [media] publishing houses to go so that there can be a dialogue with them to enable them to understand why certain decisions are taken in certain ways.
He observes that at times some reporters may not understand the lawyer’s language, and may therefore report what they think the lawyer has said.
Chief Justice Korkpor recognizes that a good number of journalists here are professional, but he equally observes that some other journalists give the wrong impression for some other reasons.
As specialized reporters, Chief Justice Korkpor challenges judicial reporters to read a little bit more and to help them to know so that they can avoid the wrong impression.
He admonishes reporters not to feel too big to say sorry when they err, noting that it takes a great man to recognize his wrong and say sorry.
On behalf of the Trial Judges Association, Commercial Court Chief Judge and one of the lead facilitators, Eva Mappy – Morgan says judges are thrilled for this type of training that has ensued at the Judiciary.She notes that judges, lawyers, reporters are all advocates for the truth, and not adversaries because they do the same type of work.
With the training, she expresses confidence that some of the participants are very much prepared to do their work.Also speaking, the Acting Chief of Party for USAID LMD Internews Mr. Musitini Tawedzegwa says trainings like these are part of the opportunities to ensure that the media and the journalists’ skills are sharpened.
He notes that the training is not undermining the skills that journalists already acquired, but the organizers recognize that it is important to broaden and continue to sharpen the skills of participants to continue to develop.
Earlier, the president of the Judicial Reporters Association Mr. Abednego Davis expressed appreciation to the various institutions that supported and made the exercise successful.
He expresses hope that the opportunity will continue to be afforded judicial reporters routinely, committing the group to be objective, ethical and accurate in their reportage.
Mr. Davis however pleads with Internews to talk with its partners to help enhance the capacity of the association, saying the number of accredited reporters has now far grown to utilize the one computer provided by Chief Justice Korkpor.
Cllr. Dr. Jallah Babu and Judge Mappy served as lead facilitators, and other lawyers, some of whom have transitioned from mainstream journalism, including Magistrate Fallah Matthews, Atty. Alphonso Zeon, Atty. Philip Wesseh, Cllr. Bobby Livingstone, among others lectured during the training.
Each of the participants were awarded certificates for successfully completing the exercise.By Winston W. Parley