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Editorial

Fear or Favor to Overcome Weak Justice System

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Effective Implementation of Laws, Policies Without – Fear or Favor to Overcome Weak Justice System

Despite the reforms it continues to undergo with assistance from the United Nations System and other international organizations in Liberia, the country’s justice system continues to take down-ward trend.

Even with all that the Ellen Administration is infusing to make the system more upright, the justice system has become even more discouraging and frustrating to party-litigants that judicial authorities themselves have become very concerned.

At the start of the 3-day National Criminal Justice Conference in Monrovia, Acting Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor even expressed disdain, warning that failure to improve on the Liberian justice system may pose threat to the development of the country, emphasizing that a nation’s justice system directly impacts public safety, commerce and the overall quality of life of every citizen on a daily basis.

Acknowledging that the complexity of legal disputes involving litigants were increasing in courts, Justice Korkpor noted that similar challenges were also in other areas of the administration of justice in Liberia, admonishing actors of the Liberian justice system, including the police and other security agencies, prosecutors, members of the trial bar, judges, the Legislature and Penal Institutions to form partnership in reforming the sector.

To buttress the concern raised by the Acting Chief Justice, the Minister of Justice also noted that the number of pre-trial detainees continues to remain high for the past years, despite the introduction of the probation, parole and the magistrate sitting program, aimed at aiding the process.

“While we suspect that there may be some other reasons why the numbers continue to be high, including irregular commitment, lack of coordination among the justice actors, poor record keeping, the slow pace of the trial process, suggests that the programs currently in place are inadequate,” Minister Christiana Tah told the conference, further admonishing

Justice actors to do more, especially in the direction of developing a robust plea bargaining in which a prosecutor and criminal defendant negotiate and agree for a plea of guilty for a lesser offense.

In as much the concerns of the two prime actors of the Liberian Justice system  may not only be commendable, but frankly, it is also important for them to develop measures targeted at overcoming the  weakness characterizing the justice system as head of two important institutions within the system.

In so doing, the real problems leading to such weakness and the attributing factors must be identified and dealt with without fear or favour. There may be very good laws and policies to propel the Liberian Judicial system, but full implementation has always kept the system at bay, probably due to fear, favour or other reasons.

If the system must be efficient and effective, the laws and policies must also apply, even if they affect judges, prosecution, defence councils or whosever stood in the way of progress in the country’s justice system. Should sympathy and other interests be allowed to supersede our national interest, we will continue to be our own problem.

Whatever efforts can be brought forth by the Supreme Court of Liberia, Ministry of Justice, as well as the Liberia National Bar Association, among others to make the justice system efficient and effective must have to be done now.

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