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Gov’t wants judge off

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The Liberian Government has requested the Chief Judge of the Community Court of Justice Edward Amoako Asante to recuse himself from any and all cases brought before the Ecowas Court by any applicant or a state party, now or in the future for making alleged prejudicial comments against the interest of the administration.

State lawyers including Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. SaymahSyreniusCephus in a filling before the Community Court claim that Justice Asante made debasing comments against the Government of Liberia on the Voice of America (VOA), in which he accused the current Liberian Government of woefully “dismissing judges who will not dance to its tone.”

Immediately following the Community Court’s final judgment delivered in the case: “Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh, Applicant versus the Republic of Liberia, the state lawyers here complain that Justice Asante made comments that were profoundly prejudicial to the government’s interest.

In November last year, the ECOWAS Court awarded impeached Liberian Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh US$200,000 as reparation for moral prejudice he suffered for the violation of his rights following case he filed against the Liberian authorities.

Cllr. Janeh was removed as an Associate Justice of the Liberian Supreme Court through an impeachment process that he later challenged as unconstitutional and won at the Ecowas Court.

One of the cases which triggered Associate Justice Ja’neh’s impeachment trial in Liberia related to a land dispute involving him and one Madam Annie Yancy Constance.

But Ja’neh’s lawyers maintained that the claim that their client allegedly manipulated the Supreme Court to rule in his favor in the property case questioned the credibility of Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor who served as the head of the Supreme Court and also signed the ruling. He was accused by lawmakers for abuse of power, using his influence as Associate Justice to secure a ruling in his favor at the Supreme Court to take possession of the land.

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.

The government here says Justice Edward Amoako Asante is conflicted and should recuse himself from any and all applications to which the Republic of Liberia is a party for expressing a rather demeaning opinion about the government of Liberia on the VOA that it is “dismissing judges who will not dance to its tone” in contravention to the judgment delivered by the Community Court.

The Liberian authorities insist that the statement of such a grave nature is neither the opinion of the court as contained in the case Kabineh MuhammadJa’neh versus Republic of Liberia, nor part of the responsibility of a venerated judge of the court.

Instead, the Liberian authorities indicate that the statement was perhaps triggered by personal or political considerations, gratuitous emotions exclusively designed, planned and unleashed against the Republic of Liberia by Justice Asante to satisfy a vested interest only known to him which is totally incompatible with the standard of judicial impartiality and neutrality.

“Movant/Respondent submits that Justice Asante has effectively incapacitated his own ability to preside over the Application for Judgment Review and should never preside over any matter to which the Republic of Liberia is a party now or in the future, because he has openly gambled and trampled underfoot the cool neutrality of the court and has convicted the Government of Liberia for “dismissing judges who will not dance to its tone” without any new application brought before the court,” the Liberian government’s complaint continues.

Going forward on the VOA, the Liberian government’s complaint adds, Justice Asante also said “the Liberian Government has shown a certain posture that it does not actually respect the court’s judgment.”

“In the mind of the Movant/Respondent, this statement from the Justice clearly demonstrates that were Justice Asante to sit on the review panel during the process of judicial review, the Republic would not get a fair hearing because based on his interview, he has already presented a one-side view or formed an opinion when he is fully aware that there exists an opportunity pursuant to Article 92 of the Rules of Procedures to file an Application for Judgment Review to review the judgment in the case: “Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh, Applicant v. Republic of Liberia, Respondent, ECW/CCJ/JUD/28/20,” the complaint says. By Winston W. Parley

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