Liberia’s Judicial Branch has denied a headline story published by Daily Observer newspaper on Wednesday, 14 February (VOL. 18. NO. 31), in which the local daily claimed that “Judges Disapprove of [President George Manneh] Weah’s 25% Salary cut Plan.”
“This headline carried by the Daily Observer Newspaper is not only a ‘Bold – faced lie’ but also an attempt to bring the Judiciary and its Judges to public disrepute,” the Judicial Public Information Section said in a statement issued Thursday, 15 February in Monrovia.
The Public Information department at the Judiciary observes that the local daily claims that “the recent pronouncement made by the President of Liberia … George Manneh Weah, about the reduction of his salary and other benefits by 25 percent has not gone down well with the judges throughout the country.
The Judiciary notes that the local newspaper claims that this assertion was contained in the Charge delivered by Juge Roosevelt Z. Willie, Resident Circuit Judge of the First Judicial Circuit Criminal Court “A” who is also the President of the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia, at the Opening of the February Term of Court this week.
The Judiciary clarifies that at no time were issues pertaining to the President’s pronouncement on his salary cut mentioned in open court, neither were they contained in the written Charge delivered by Judge Willie.
“The Judiciary wonders therefore, from whence the paper got such insinuations and for what purpose would the paper choose to publish such outright lie,” the Judiciary writes.
According to the Judiciary, the paper further claims that “currently, Circuit Judges earn US$4,500 per month and Magistrates also earn US$1,500 per month,” and continues in a following paragraph that “Judges also receive US$5,000 each as allowance plus unspecified number of scratch cards, gasoline, and medical and housing benefits, while magistrates are likely not benefiting from these things.”
“The Daily Observer Newspaper, in this malicious publication did not only stop there, but went further to insinuate that Justices of the Supreme Court were earning over US$25,000 monthly, all of which are pure fabrications made up by the paper and its report,” the Judicial Branch insists.
It emphasizes that “no one within the employ of the Judiciary is paid salary in United States Dollars,” concluding that no judge earns US$4,500 salary nor a magistrate earning US$1,500 salary.
The Judiciary says this would have been so clear to the Newspaper and its reporter had they either listened to the Charge delivered by the Judge or taken the journalistic and professional posture to have read the written Charge, which was distributed to journalists.
The Judiciary sees the publication as a disservice to the people of Liberia and foreigners alike who are readers of the Daily Observer Newspaper, as the paper denied its readers the benefit of professional journalism and accurate information.
The Judiciary adds that the Daily Observer has fed them [its readers] with total fabrication and misrepresentation of the facts, warning that it will not tolerate this action on the part of the newspaper because it will not allow any person or institution involve it into politics.
The Judiciary has asked the Daily Observer Newspaper to now perform its professional duty by retracting its front-page story of Wednesday February 14, 2018 and rendering apologies to Judge Willie, the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL), the Judiciary Branch and the Liberian people.
“We also urge the Liberian Media to treat the Liberian people with fairness always in the exercise of their reportorial duties as the information consumed by your audience could have a positive or negative consequence on our Nation and its people,” the release says.
The Judiciary says it stands prepared to work with the media and any other public interest group desirous of obtaining factual information.–Press release