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Restructure the police

An official of the Liberian National Bar Association or LNBA has joined Lofa County Senator Steven Zargo calling for the restructuring of the Liberian National Police or LNP more than 10 years after they were trained by the United Nations and other bilateral partners.

Montserrado County Bar President Cllr. Sam Y. Cooper says lawyers here have problem with the police, especially so when it comes to the preparation of case dockets. He says police officers trained by the Americans and other partners have different ways of preparing their charge sheets which sometimes tend to confuse the county attorney.

“..The American-trained people will bring their charge sheet, when they get to the County Attorney, they’re confused,” he claims. “We need to work [on] our police here… I mean it,” he said adding, ” I got to say it. When I say it, I got to do it.”

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The police need to be restructured, overhauled. And We’re going to fight towards that as I speak now,” Cllr. Cooper said Monday, 9 May at the opening of the Criminal Courts for Montserrado County at the Temple of Justice.

“So your honors, we from the Montserrado Bar and our lawyers practicing in Montserrado … the police, I said it here before during [late Chief Justice] Johnnie Lewis’ time that we have problem with the police in our country,” he said.

He also suggested that in looking into the issue of criminal justice system here, the society must not be left out “because all criminal activities come from the society.” Earlier delivering a charge at the courts’ opening, presiding Criminal Court “D” Judge Gee-Plah Tiklo Konton said “we all” as individuals in society have compelling obligation that “we have peace among ourselves to ensure that justice prevails.

He suggested that every individual has obligation in the criminal justice system to ensure that the attention of the court is drawn to offenses that occur in the community. “And it is at this point that the members of the community have the responsibility to draw the attention of security forces whenever there is an offense – like criminal offense, because when the law is offended by individual in the community and the community sits supinely, it does not draw the attention of the police which is an actor in the criminal justice system,” he said.

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When this happens, Judge Konton says compromises of offenses against the law criminally begins, as he reminded the community to ensure that acts against the law that are committed by other individuals in the society are reported.

However, he acknowledged that it is the obligation of the police to get out there and observe the society and to make sure that those who offend the law criminally are apprehended. “But to some extent it becomes the compelling obligation of the members of the community also to run to the police whenever there is an offense, he said.

He says when criminal cases are reported by individuals in the community, the police are obligated to ensure that the preliminary is done in accordance with the law. As a result of the preliminary, he suggested that if the police do not establish a probable cause, it should not forward such a case to the magisterial court for preliminary examination of the evidence.

During responses to the judge’s charge, Assistant Justice Ministry for Litigation Cllr. Augustine C. Fayiah pledged the ministry’s preparedness to work with the judges as the May Term of Court commences, saying he agreed that the courts have serious responsibility and that they need to be emphasized.

Minister Fayiah alluded to the Judge’s charge that if the community and everyone get involved, criminal activities will be gotten rid off of in the society in very short time. He said the charge depicted many things, citing commitment to society and integrity.

Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC representative Cllr. Othello Paymah assured his commission’s willingness to work with the courts, and that it will go after those who willfully, criminally and intentionally misuse public resources.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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