Liberia’s Supreme Court says it will not take its regular vacationbeginning the March 2017 Term of Court “until the Presidential andGeneral Elections in 2017 are held and a new administration isinaugurated”.
Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. said on Monday, 10 Octoberat the Supreme Court’s opening for the October Term that the pendingpresidential and representative elections will be very critical to themaintenance of peace and security, as well as and survival ofLiberia’s fledgling democracy.
“… Towards this end, my Colleagues and I have decided and resolvednot to take any vacation beginning the March, 2017 term of this Courtuntil the Presidential and General Elections in 2017 are held and anew administration is inaugurated,” Mr. Korkpor said on Monday.
Mr. Korkpor suggested that the Judiciary is mindful that the greatestsecurity a nation can have for lasting peace is the presence of therule of law. Already, Chief Justice Korkpor has said discussions have been held withthe Chairman and Commissioners of the National Elections Commission orNEC to explore ways and means for election cases to be expeditiouslyheard and decided.
He cited the importance of creating an enabling environment for thesmooth conduct of the elections, saying the elections will be verycritical to the maintenance and survival of the country’s fledglingdemocracy.
The Chief Justice stressed that as Liberia takes on the onerous taskof self-security, the country’s laws must be used to safe guide thenation, its people and foreign nationals alike. He said it wasnecessary to ensure peace to invite the trust and confidence of genuinebusiness investors into Liberia’s economy.
Mr. Korkpor has further alarmed the over-crowdedness of the SupremeCourt’s docket, noting that that the March term was quite challengingfor the high court in which a total of 34 cases decided. He said aConstitutional requirement mandates the Court to hear and decide allcases on appeal.
“… It is therefore highly improbable that the docket of this Courtwill be exhausted in any given term time if the requirement that allappeals be passed upon by the Supreme Court remains in place and withthe Court’s present composition of five Justices,” Mr. Korkpor said.
He argued that from Liberia’s Independence in 1847 to present, a wholelot has changed in the country, saying the population has tripled orquadrupled, translating into more party litigants in courts.
He said more circuit courts have been established in the country’s 15counties along with specialized courts and magistrate courts. Mr.Korkpor said more Liberians were now resorting to court process -meaning that more cases were being taken to court with more appeals alsotaken before the Supreme Court.
However, the Chief Justice indicated that he is informed that Cllr.David A.B. Jallah – former Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School ofLaw at theUniversity of Liberia, is heading a committee set up to draft an“Appellate Court Act” for review by stakeholders before submission tothe National Legislature.
Liberia’s Justice Minister Frederick D. Cherue said he was fullyaware of the many challenges the Supreme Court faces, but praisedthe Korkpor Bench and those before his administration for workingassiduously in providing justice and giving hope to the ordinaryLiberians.
He agreed with the Chief Justice that there was a need to overhaul theprocedural technicalities that attend the hearing and disposition ofcases before the Supreme Court; saying laws here with respect to trial must be reviewed to bring them in line with current realities,circumstances and conditions.
Liberian National Bar Association President G. Moses Paegarthanked the Supreme Court Bench for its decision not to take a break commencing the March 2017 Term of Court until elections are held andgovernment inaugurated in January 2018.By Winston W. Parley