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UN speaks against Ja’neh impeachment

A United Nations official here has described the impeachment bill against Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh as a clear violation of the doctrine of separation of power.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) Country Rep. to Liberia Mr. Uchenna Emelonye says his first impression is that the lawmakers’ action “violates the principle of separation of powers.

Two ruling party Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Rep. Acarous Moses Gray and Thomas Fallah have submitted a bill of impeachment against Justice Ja’neh, making accusations against him for his role in certain cases, including the controversial Code of Conduct that was tested during the 2017 presidential elections won by the CDC.

During the heat of the 2017 elections, it took the efforts of senior UN peacekeeping officials to save Associate Justices Ja’neh, Jamesetta Howard- Wolokolie and former Justice Philip A.Z. Banks from being impeached by lawmakers for alleged gross misconduct following their decision on the Code of Conduct.

“…But if it is an issue of legality, we as an office … will promote public interest litigation. And as an office, we will provide the funding to cover for the cost of public interest litigation,” Mr, Emelonye said while opening a Business and Human Rights round table dialogue Tuesday, 7 August at Corina Hotel in Sinkor.

He said if there is no such oversight body, then it becomes a political issue.

He said the lawmakers may have seen “a loophole which is why” they are acting against Justice Ja’neh “without a cause.”

He observes that there was no judicial oversight that intervened in the matter and made recommendation for a legislative process against Justice Ja’neh. “It is on the recommendation of this body that institutions like parliament can step in,” he says.

Mr. Emelonye tells the Liberian Government that he will be a friend, but in being a true friend, he will say to the government what it needs to hear.As a principle of diplomacy, he assures that he will share with government all the critical issues that he intends to bring forth because he does not intend to surprise the government.

“And like I said to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Office I will tell the Government of Liberia what it needs to hear and not what they want to hear,” Mr. Emelonye says.

According to him, the idea is to give the government an opportunity to be aware that this is happening but not to elude the message.He applauds the Liberian Government for accepting the establishment of the UN Human Rights Office here, noting that UN Human Rights Office cannot be everywhere but its strongest strength is establishing a strong civil society network.

He says they want to support and capacitate the civil society who are foot – soldiers to be able to hold government to account.Mr. Emelonye notes that his office is in no way going to erode into the mandate of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights.

He rather indicates that the day his office is shut down in the next six years, there would be a strong independent human rights commission to push for human rights in Liberia.

According to him, his office intends to be here for six years, revealing that the first three years are essentially meant to build capacity of civil society, commissioners and other institutions that will be established in Liberia with quasi mandate on human rights.

He said his office has a mandate to develop the capacity of members of the Legislature so that they can promulgate laws that apply to human rights.He observes difficulties in pushing for human rights in a country when the laws of that country continually violate human rights.

He also announces plans to support the Judiciary here to enable it stand to dispense justice.Regarding Business and Human Rights, he says the essence of this is to build agendas so that shareholders who make resolutions and approve the corporate management of companies in countries should take some time and look at the process, not profit.

He noted that it is not all about the money that the company makes, but they should consider the circumstance and violation under which they make their money and profits.

“So we are stepping back from the bigger picture of the commercial gains to the procedural gains. And the procedural gain for us is the rights, dignity of human beings who work in that area, who live in that community, whose live will be distorted by the commercial venture,” he says.

By Winston W. Parley

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