The Institute for Research and Democratic Development or IREDD, a national civil society advocacy organization with focus on socio-economic justice for all persons releases its report from three counties, including; Lofa, Montserrado and Grand Gedeh Counties, focusing on the justice system and courtrooms.
Speaking at the head office of IREDD Thursday, October 10, in Monrovia, Project Manager, Mr. Bob Johnson disclosed there are 127 unheard cases and 118 pre- detainees, who never entered court since the incarceration.
Johnson told the conference that IREDD anticipates these socio-economic justice issues bordering on violation of basic human rights as contained in its report, will drive responsible government ministries and agencies to take appropriate remedial actions in real time; as justice delayed is construed as justice denied.He says the figures are generated from the three counties’ courtrooms that IREDD had monitored for a month-long period.
Mr. Johnson adds that IREDD’s monitors deployed at selected police stations, magisterial and circuit courts in: Voinjama City, Lofa County; Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County and parts of Montserrado County have documented huge number of pre-trial cases on the respective courts’ dockets some of which are dated as far back as 2008.
According to him, with these unfolding human right issues, IREDD is troubled by prolonged detention of accused persons without trial, specifically, at some Magisterial and Circuit Courts, adding that IREDD considers the continued delay to proceed with speedy trial of accused persons in pre-trial detention as willful and gross violation of their basic human rights, access unhindered justice and freedom.
He explains that IREDD’s monitors reports from selected police stations across the focused counties indicate some level of suspects’ human rights violation by detaining in their withholding cells far beyond the constitutional period of 48hrs.“For examples, at the Zone 6 police station suspects David Dole, age 29yrs and Nathaniel Sirleaf, age 23 were arrested and detained for seven and four days respectively, which contravenes the constitutional provision of 48hrs,” Johnson notes.
He says based on these unfolding human rights violations in the justice and security sectors, IREDD hereby calls on relevant government authorities that stir the affairs of these institutions to put in place effective and efficient monitoring mechanism to enhance speedy dispensation of the justice system of Liberia to foster peace and stability which are the pillars of democracy.
IREDD recommends the need for oversight institutions such as the National Legislature to strengthen its oversight on Justice and Security Institutions; that the Liberia National Police strengthens monitoring and supervision of various Zones and Depots to ensure that police officers operate within the framework of the law and respect the rights of suspects and citizens generally. It cans on the Chief Justice and the Judiciary in general to take pragmatic steps to fast track prolonged cases on the courts’ dockets.
The advocacy group further recommends that government provides adequate funding to support justice and security institutions such as the Police and the Courts, while calling on International Partners to support the government to strengthen justice and security institutions to deliver on their mandate in a more effective and efficient manner Mr. Johnson stresses that peace and stability of any country highly depend on the effectiveness and efficiency of speedy administration of justice and respect for rule of law, which requires unhindered access to justice for all persons irrespective of status. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne