President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf is pleading with lawyers here to look at Liberia’s justice system to address inadequacies and delay of justice, taking note of year on year human rights report on the nation that are not favorable.
“Today we have over one thousand or some more people in the Central Prison for a facility that should have not more than two or three hundred,” Mrs. Sirleaf said Saturday, 2 September when she dedicated a government – funded Sanniquellie Judicial Complex in Nimba County.
She said most times the Chief Justice would personally go around prisons to order the release of some pretrial detainees who have been detained over time without trial. “Again, what do we do about that, we have to look to you to be able to help us to change that situation. Part of it has to do with the principles that we know … innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” she adds.
She therefore calls on lawyers to help their country solve the problem by finding the means through new laws, new statutes, new regulations or new procedures.
President Sirleaf says it is a known fact that theSupreme Court is overburdened today, simply because everybody who gets slapped in the face and get sued by somebody can go to the nation’s highest court to call for writ of prohibition.
Mrs. Sirleaf said with such situations the Supreme Court has no choice but to look into every matter that goes before it. Thus she urged lawyers and stakeholders here to consider system reform that will bring relief to the situation and improve the quality of justice.
Concerning the judicial complex in Sanniquellie, Mrs. Sirleaf says she is pleased about the facility because it represents the results of strong policies and strong commitments to ensure that the country stands shoulder – to – shoulder in all areas of its national endeavors along with many neighboring countries.
Mrs. Sirleaf commends the transformation of the judiciary, recalling that when her government embarked on the journey of political governance, it recognized a lot of things that needed to be done to enhance the quality of justice and improve delivery of justice through the incentives required.
She says government has addressed issues of incentives, logistics, magisterial trainings as well as facilities within the judiciary embarked upon by late Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis and expanded upon by current Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr.
“This structure came out of strong determination. In November 2015 when we broke grounds, I was one of those not convinced that it could be finished within time,” Mrs. Sirleaf says.
The Sanniquellie Judicial Complex hosts sexual offense court, debt court, traffic court, tax court, revenue court, magistrate court, as well as offices for county attorney, resident judge, public defenders, city solicitor, petty and grand jurors, among others.
President Sirleaf thanked authorities at all ends for the spirit of cooperation that has existed among the three branches of government, having cited long periods of negotiations and consultations to get to where “we” are.
She, however, expressed regret that members of the Nimba legislative caucus who were cited on the program did not show up at the dedicatory ceremony. “It’s unfortunate that the members of the Nimba legislative caucus who are cited on the program are not here, and all of those aspiring for political leadership in Nimba are not here. They should be here because they are the ones who will benefit from the quality of justice that will come out of these quarters,” she says. Mrs. Sirleaf was led on a tour of the facility by Chief Justice Korkpor and associate justices.
–By Winston W. Parley